Salvation

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Salvation is the restoration of the communion of man with God and the salvation of all creation from the bondage of sin and death. God gives salvation not only for the present life, but for eternity to every person who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Salvation is a gift of God, made possible by grace, given by faith in Jesus Christ, not earned by personal merit or good works. (Ephesians 2,4-10, 1, Corinthians 1,9, Romans 8,21-23, 6,18.22-23)

Salvation - a rescue operation!

Salvation is a bailout. To approach the term "salvation," we need to know three things: what the problem was; what God did against it; and how we should react.

What man is

When God made man, he created him "in his own image," and called his creation "very good" (1Mo 1,26-27 & 31). A wonderful creature was man: made of dust, but alive with the breath of God (1Mo 2,7).

The "image of God" probably includes intelligence, creativity, and violence over creation. And also the ability to make relationships and make moral decisions. In some ways, we are like God Himself. That's because God intends something very special with us, his children.

The first book of Moses tells us that the first people did what God forbid them to do (1Mo 3,1-13). Their disobedience showed that they did not trust God; and it was a violation of his trust in her. Through unbelief they had tarnished the relationship and were not living up to what God wanted for them. As a result, they lost a piece of godlike likeness. The result, God said, would be: struggle, pain and death (v. 16-19). If they did not want to follow the Creator's instructions, they just had to cross the valley of tears.

Man is noble and wicked at the same time. We can have high ideals and yet be barbaric. We are godlike and godless at the same time. We are no longer "in the spirit of the inventor". Although we have "corrupted", God still considers us to be godlike (1Mo 9,6). The potential to become godlike is still there. Therefore, God wants to save us, so he wants to redeem us and restore the relationship he had with us.

God wants to give us eternal life, free of pain, a life on good terms with God and with each other. He wants our intelligence, creativity and power to be used for the better. He wants us to become like him, to be even better than the first humans. That is salvation.

The centerpiece of the plan

So we are in need of rescue. And God saved us - but in a way no one could have counted on. The Son of God became man, lived a sinless life, and we killed him. And that - says God - is the salvation we need. What irony! We are saved by a sacrifice. Our creator became flesh so that he could represent our sin punishment vicariously. God resurrected him, and through Jesus he promised to lead us also to the resurrection.

The death and resurrection of Jesus reflects the death and resurrection of all mankind and makes it possible in the first place. His death is what our failures and mistakes deserve, and as our Creator, he has made all our mistakes. Although he did not deserve death, in his stead he willingly took it upon himself.

Jesus Christ died for us and he has been raised for us (Rom 4,25). With him our old self has died, and with him a new man is brought to life (Rom 6,3-4). With a single victim he paid the penalty for the sins of "the whole world" (1Joh 2,2). The payment has already been paid; the question now is how we will benefit from it. Our participation in the plan is through repentance and faith.

contrition

Jesus came to call people to repentance (Lk 5,32); ("Repentance" is usually translated by "Busse" in Luther). Peter called for repentance and conversion to God for forgiveness (Act 2,38, 3,19). Paul urged people to "repent to God" (Acts 20,21, Elberfelder Bibel). Repentance means turning away from sin, turning to God. Paul proclaimed to the Athenians that God is ignorant of idolatry in ignorance, but now he "commands men to repent on all ends" (Acts 17,30). Say: you should let go of idolatry.

Paul worried that some of the Corinthian Christians might not regret their sins of fornication (2Kor 12,21). For these people, repentance was the readiness to let go of fornication. According to Paul, man should "do righteous works of repentance," that is, prove the authenticity of his repentance through deeds (Acts 26,20). We change our mindset and our behavior.

The foundation of our teaching is the "repentance of the dead works" (Hebr 6,1). This does not mean perfection from the beginning - the Christian is not perfect (1Joh1,8). Repentance does not mean that we have arrived at the destination, but that we start to go in the right direction.

We no longer live for ourselves, but for the Redeemer Christ (2Kor 5,15; 1Kor 6,20). Paul tells us, "As you gave your limbs to the service of uncleanness and injustice to ever new injustice, now give your members to the service of righteousness to become holy" (Rom 6,19).

Faith

But calling people to repentance does not save them from their fallibility. For thousands of years, people have been called to obedience, but still are in need of rescue. A second element is required and that is the belief. The New Testament says far more about faith than repentance (repentance) - the words for faith are more than eight times more common.

Whoever believes in Jesus will be forgiven (Act 10,43). "Faith in the Lord Jesus, you and your house will be saved!" (Acts 16,31.) The Gospel "is a power of God that blesses all who believe in it" (Rom 1,16). Christians have the nickname Believers, not Repentants. Decisive feature is the belief.

What does "believing" now mean - accepting certain facts? The Greek word can mean that kind of belief, but for the most part it has the main meaning of "trust." When Paul calls us to believe in Christ, he does not mean the factual in the first place. (Even the devil knows the facts about Jesus, but is still not blessed.)

If we believe in Jesus Christ, we trust Him. We know he is loyal and trustworthy. We can count on him to take care of us, to give us what he promises. We can trust Him to save us from the worst problems of humanity. When we come to him for salvation, we acknowledge that we need help and that he can give it to us.

Faith as such does not save us - it has to be faith in it, not something else. We trust Him and He saves us. When we trust Christ, we stop trusting ourselves. While we strive for good behavior, we do not believe that our effort will save us ("Effortless Efforts" never made anyone perfect). On the other hand, we do not despair if our efforts fail. We trust that Jesus will bring us salvation, not that we ourselves will work it out. We bet on him, not on our own success or failure.

Faith is the driving force of repentance. If we trust Jesus as our Savior; when we realize that God loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us; When we know that he wants the best for us, it gives us the willingness to live and be pleasing to him. We make a decision: we give up the meaningless and frustrating life that we have led and accept the God-given meaning of life, the God-given life direction and orientation.

Faith - that is the all-important inner change. Our faith "works" for us and does not add anything to what Jesus "worked" for us. Faith is simply a willingness to respond to what it has done. We are like slaves working in a clay pit, slaves to whom Christ proclaims, "I redeemed you." We are free to stay in the clay pit or trust him and leave the clay pit. The redemption has taken place; It is up to us to accept them and act accordingly.

Grace

Salvation is a gift of God in the literal sense: God gives it to us through His grace, through His generosity. We can not earn it, no matter what we do. "For by grace you have been saved by faith, and not from you: God's gift is not from works, so that no one boast" (Eph 2,8-9). Faith, too, is a gift from God. Even if we obey perfectly from that moment, we do not deserve a reward (Lk 17,10).

We are made for good works (Eph 2,10), but good works can not save us. They follow the healing, but they can not bring about. As Paul says, if one could come to salvation by keeping the laws, then Christ would have died in vain (Gal 2,21). Grace does not give us a license to sin, but she is given to us while we sin (Rom 6,15, 1Joh1,9). When we do good works, we have to thank God because He does them in us (Gal 2,20, Phil 2,13).

God "has made us blessed and called with a holy call, not according to our works, but according to his counsel and grace" (2Tim1,9). God "made us happy - not for the works of righteousness that we had done, but for his mercy" (Tit 3,5).

Grace is the heart of the gospel: we receive salvation as a gift of God, not through our works. The gospel is "the word of his grace" (Acts 14,3; 20,24). We believe "to be saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 15,11). We "do justice without merit from His grace through the redemption that has been done through Christ Jesus" (Rom 3,24). Without the grace of God, we would be at the mercy of sin and damnation.

Our salvation stands and falls with what Christ has done. He is the Savior, the one who saves us. We can not boast of our obedience because it is always imperfect. The only thing we can be proud of is what Christ did (2Kor 10,17-18) - and he did it for everyone, not just us.

justification

Salvation is circumscribed in the Bible in many terms: ransom, redemption, forgiveness, reconciliation, childhood, justification, etc. The reason: people see their problematic in different light. If you feel dirty, Christ offers purification. He who feels enslaved offers redemption; He who feels guilty, he gives forgiveness.

He who feels alienated and set back offers reconciliation and friendship. He who appears worthless, he gives new, secure esteem. He who does not feel affiliated anywhere, he offers salvation as a child and inheritance. Anyone who feels aimless gives him meaning and purpose. He offers peace to the weary. He gives peace to the timid. All this is salvation, and more.

Let's take a closer look at a single concept: Justification. The Greek word comes from the legal field. The justified is "not guilty". He is relieved, rehabilitated, acquitted. If God justifies us, He declares that our sins are no longer attributed to us. The debt account has been paid.

If we accept that Jesus died for us, if we acknowledge that we need a Savior, if we acknowledge that our sin deserves punishment and that Jesus bore the punishment of sin for us, then we have faith and God assures us that we are forgiven.

By "works of the law" no one can be justified - justified (Röm 3,20) because the law does not save. It's just a standard we can not live up to. no one can do justice to this standard (V. 23). God does justice to the "who is of faith in Jesus" (v. 26). Man becomes righteous "without the law works, only by faith" (v. 28).

To illustrate the principle of "justification by faith," Paul points out to Abraham, "Abraham believed God, and he was reckoned to be righteous" (Rom 4,3, a quote from 1Mo 15,6). Because Abraham trusted in God, God counted him as righteous. This was long before the establishment of the Code of Law, proof that justification is a gift of grace from God received through faith, not earned by holding the law.

Justification is more than forgiveness, is more than clearing the debt account. Justification means: We are now considered to be fair, we stand there as someone who has done something right. Our righteousness does not come from our own works, but from Christ (1Kor 1,30). Through the obedience of Christ, writes Paul, the believer becomes righteous (Rom 5,19).

Even the "godless" becomes his "faith reckoned for righteousness" (Rom 4,5). A sinner who trusts in God is just in God's eyes (and therefore will be accepted at the Last Judgment). Those who trust God will no longer want to be godless, but this is a consequence, not a cause of salvation. Paul knows and emphasizes again and again, "that man does not do justice by works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ" (Gal 2,16).

A new Start

Some people come to believe in a momentary experience. Something clicks in her brain, a light comes on, and they confess Jesus as their Savior. Others come to faith in a more gradual way, slowly realizing that they are not (more) self-reliant for salvation but for Christ.

Either way, the Bible describes it as a new birth. If we have faith in Christ, we will be born again as God's children (Joh 1,12-13, Gal 3,26, 1Joh5,1). The Holy Spirit begins to live in us (Joh 14,17), and God sets in us a new cycle of creation (2Kor 5,17, Gal 6,15). The old I dies, a new human being begins to become (Eph 4,22-24) - God transforms us.

In Jesus Christ - and in us, if we believe in him - God annuls the consequences of the sin of humanity. With the work of the Holy Spirit in us, a new humanity is forming. How that happens, the Bible does not tell us in detail; it just tells us it's happening. The process begins in this life and will be completed in the next.

The goal is that we become more like Jesus Christ. He is the perfect image of God (2Kor 4,4, Kol 1,15, Hebr 1,3), and we need to be transformed into his likeness (2Kor 3,18, Gal4,19, Eph 4,13, Kol 3,10). We should become like him in spirit - in love, joy, peace, humility and other God-qualities. This is what the Holy Spirit is doing in us. He renews the image of God.

Reconciliation - restoration of our relationship with God - is also described as salvation (Rom 5,10-11, 2Kor 5,18-21, Eph 2,16, Kol 1,20-22). We do not resist or ignore God - we love Him. From enemies we become friends. Yes, to more than friends - God says he accepts us as his children (Rom 8,15, Eph 1,5). We belong to his family, with rights, duties and a wonderful heritage (Rom 8,16-17, Gal 3,29, Eph 1,18, Kol 1,12).

In the end, there will be no more pain and suffering (Offb 21,4), which means no one will make mistakes anymore. Sin will be no more, and death will be no more (1Kor 15,26). This goal may be a long way off when we consider our present state, but the journey begins with a single step - the step of accepting Jesus Christ as the Redeemer. Christ will complete the work He begins in us (Phil 1,6).

And then we will become even more Christlike (1Kor 15,49; 1Joh 3,2). We will be immortal, everlasting, glorious and sinless. Our spirit body will have supernatural powers. We will have a vitality, intelligence, creativity, strength and love that we can not dream of now. The image of God, once stained by sin, will radiate in greater splendor than ever before.

Michael Morrison


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