Monday Musings for October 24, 2016

Good morning, Musers,

"Salvation is the process by which God returns people to himself." 

That is the opening statement on Mainsail Ministry's featured webpage... and that took me nearly forty years to write that. You see, I kept waiting for this E = mc2 moment where all my notions of salvation coalesced into an elegant statement that had the force of a noun more so than a verb... but that never happened. And do you know why? Salvation is a process, not a thing... and it cost me the years I spent trying to simplify it and trying to make a noun out of it without warrant. But there's a lesson here.

Although the word salvation is indeed a noun, I'd rather describe it as a verb… because it should be a state of doing, not being… I mean… look at what God did — even before he created the physical universe: He installed an exit on the highway to Hell… and you really want to take that exit. (Look for Exit 1 to Redemption.) Don’t stay on the highway; it only goes to Hell. Besides, the exit ramp is Jesus Christ himself.

““Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13, NIV)

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6, NIV)

God interceded on the road to destruction using the process of redemption... and that’s another nounified verb. You see, redemption was decidedly active on God's part: it was visionary, proactive — and messy! He deployed it, protected it and advertised it — yet he forced it on no one. So, although it is wonderful to be redeemed, it is horrible to consider the process: the Creator of the universe took on the form of a creature; he bled and died as an innocent man... and countless humans will perish by ignoring his sacrifice. Redemption is, by necessity, a winnowing. But that doesn’t mean that we have to be happy about the chaff.

“His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Luke 3:17, NIV)

There is nothing noun-like about our redemption, nor should there be with our salvation. Ephesians 2: 8-9 tells us what our salvation is, but Ephesians 2:10 tells us what salvation does.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8–10, NIV).

It’s okay to rejoice in verses 8 and 9 if we live in verse 10… after all, being a Christian is wonderful! But doing Christian things is why we are here. So why is the Christian art of forgiveness so difficult to perform... and especially for a Christian? That’s today’s real issue. If God forgave us through such a costly process as redemption, why would we expect that forgiving others will not be costly too?  

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