Salvation At The Cross: Part Two

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“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” (Psalms 13:5, NIV)

Jesus Holds The Future
Jesus Holds The Future

Calvary, is the “unfailing love of Jesus.”

Two weeks ago, we left off in the article called: “Salvation At The Cross: Part One” and the following thoughts were in that article:

“That Jesus might sanctify the people with His own blood, Christ “suffered without the gate.” Heb 13:12. Christ, our substitute, was to suffer without the boundaries of Jerusalem. He died outside the gate, where felons and murderers were executed. Full of significance are the words, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” Gal 3:13.

Both Isaiah’s experience and that of the two thieves represent the experience of believers today.

The experience of salvation should look very similar for everyone, which will consist of a wide variety of members from many different backgrounds. The Bible provides many types and examples of this experience for believers today.

Our opening text for today’s weekly, describes in a nutshell, the experience of believers for today. (see Psalms 13:5).

Trust in His unfailing love. Rejoice in His salvation.

In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God. Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ, as Substitute and Example. This faith which receives salvation comes through the divine power of the Word and is the gift of God’s grace. Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God’s sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God’s law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life. Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine nature and have the assurance of salvation now and in the judgment.-Fundamental Beliefs, 10

Paul said, “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27, RSV).

Such a cleansing is the goal of the people today.  Hence, believers now can testify that

“though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day” (2 Cor 4:16, RSV). “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor 3:18).

This transformation is the ultimate internal Pentecost.

Throughout Scripture the descriptions of the believer’s experience, salvation is spoken of as

(1) already accomplished,

(2) presently being realized, and

(3) to be realized in the future.

An understanding of these three perspectives helps to solve the seeming tensions in emphasis relative to justification and sanctification. “Salvation” then, according to scripture, is experienced in these three ways. Past, present, and future; but all three of these are based upon the cross. “Christ, and Him crucified.” dealing with salvation in the believer’s past, present, and future.

The Experience of Salvation and the Past

A factual knowledge about God and His love and benevolence is insufficient. Trying, apart from Christ, to develop the good in oneself is counterproductive. “Trying” isn’t good enough. The experience of salvation that reaches deep into the soul comes from God alone. It is centred in “Christ, and Him crucified.” (Gal 6:14). Speaking of this experience, Christ said, “‘Unless one is born again, they cannot see the kingdom of God. Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, they cannot enter the kingdom of God'” (John 3:3, John 3:5).

Only through Jesus Christ can one experience salvation, “‘for there is no other name under heaven given among us by which we must be saved'” (Acts 4:12). Jesus said, “‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me'” (John 14:6).

This weekly will deal mainly with Present salvation. The three phases of the experience of present salvation are:

(1) an accomplished act in the believer’s past;

(2) a process in the believer’s present experience;

(3) and the final result that the believer experiences at Christ’s return.

As to the believer’s past, at the moment of justification the believer is also sanctified “in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11). He or she becomes a “saint.” At that point the new believer is redeemed, and belongs fully to God.

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As a result of God’s call (Rom 1:7), believers are called “saints” for they are “in Christ” (Phil 1:1; see also John 15:1-7), not because they have achieved a state of ethereal sinlessness. Salvation is a present experience for Christians today. “His mercy,” Paul said, has “saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5), setting us apart and consecrating us to a holy purpose and our walk of faith with Christ. Through Christ’s blood bringing salvation, (Eph 2:13), the believer is “a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor 5:17). If there is no change to something better, then its more doubtful that such a person is a Christian.

As a new creation, believers have new responsibilities. “Just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness,” Paul said, “so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness” (Rom 6:19). Now they are to live “in the Spirit” (Gal 5:25).

Spirit-filled believers “do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom 8:1, Rom 8:4). They are transformed, since “to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom 8:6). Through the indwelling of the Spirit of God they “are not in the flesh but in the Spirit” (Rom 8:9).

The highest goal of the Spirit-filled life is to please God (1 Thes 4:1). This desire sometimes flies in the face of other people in your life. Life involves constant change. There is no neutral ground. We are either being ennobled or degraded. We are either “slaves of sin” or “slaves of righteousness” (Rom 6:17-18). Whoever/whatever occupies our minds occupies us. If, through the Holy Spirit, Christ occupies our minds, we will become Christ-like people-a Spirit-filled life brings “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5).

Are There “Steps To Salvation?”

Not really; but there are at least several things that will happen as a result, and these can be collectively known as “salvation.” Its really just one step. One event. Just turn to God exactly the way you are. No need for “fixing yourself up” first, or somehow “proving” that you “deserve” salvation, for no one really does. (Eph 2:13). “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3;23)

1/ The involvement of Christ and the Holy Spirit

Only the Creator can accomplish the creative work of transforming our lives (1 Thes 5:23). However, He does not do so without our participation. We must place ourselves in the channel of the Spirit’s working, which we can do by beholding Christ. As we meditate on Christ’s life, the Holy Spirit restores the physical, mental, and spiritual faculties (Titus 3:5). The Holy Spirit’s work involves revealing Christ and restoring us into Christ’s image (Rom 8:1-10). God desires to live within His people. It was because He had promised “I will dwell in them” (2 Cor 6:16; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:12) that Paul could say: “Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20; 2 John 14:23). The Creator’s indwelling daily revives the believers inwardly (2 Cor 4:16), renewing their minds (Rom 12:2; see also Phil 2:5).

2/ Partaking Of The Divine Nature

Christ’s “exceeding great and precious promises” pledge His divine power to complete the transformation of our characters (2 Pet 1:4). This access to divine power allows us diligently to “add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Pet 1:5-7). “If these things be in you, and abound,” Peter says, “they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who lack these things are blind” (2 Pet 1:8-9, KJV).

3/ Only through Christ: John 14:6

What transforms humans into the image of their Creator is the putting on or partaking of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 13:14; Heb 3:14), the “renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). It is the perfecting of God’s love in us (1 John 4:12). Here is a mystery akin to that of the incarnation of the Son of God. 126As the Holy Spirit enabled the divine Christ to partake of human nature, so that Spirit enables us to partake of the divine character traits. This appropriation of the divine nature renews the inner person, making us Christlike, though on a different level: Whereas Christ became human, believers do not become divine. Rather, they become Christ-like in their character, and this basic process is why believers are called “Christians.” (Acts 11:26).

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The Grounds of Our Acceptance With God

Neither Christlike character traits nor faultless behaviour, nor sincerity, nor degree of effort, nor belonging to any particular religion, are the grounds of our acceptance with God. Saving righteousness comes from the One Righteous Man, Jesus, and is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit. We can contribute nothing to Christ’s gift of righteousness; we can only receive it. No one other than Christ is righteous (Rom 3:10); independent human righteousness is only filthy rags (Isa 64:6; see also Dan 9:7, Dan 9:11, Dan 9:20; 1 Cor 1:30). Even what we do in response to Christ’s saving love cannot form the basis of our acceptance with God. That acceptance is identified with the work of Christ. In bringing Christ to us, the Holy Spirit brings that acceptance:

Ezekiel 14:14  Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord GOD.Ezekiel 14:20  even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,” says the Lord GOD, “they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.”

Is our acceptance based on Christ’s justifying righteousness or His sanctifying righteousness or both? Seems like some do make this into quite the convoluted question! John Calvin pointed out that as “Christ cannot be divided into parts, so the two things, justification and sanctification, which we perceive to be united together in him, are inseparable.” Christ’s ministry has to be seen in its totality. As one thing. As one package fits all. This makes it paramount to avoid speculation about these two terms by “trying to define minutely the fine points of distinction between justification and sanctification. After-all, why try to be more minute than is Inspiration on the vital questions of righteousness by faith?

Just as the sun has light and heat-inseparable, yet with unique functions-so Christ has become to us righteousness as well as sanctification (1 Cor 1:30). Not only are we fully justified but also fully sanctified in Him. The Holy Spirit brings the “It is finished” of Calvary within, applying the only experience of God’s acceptance of humanity to us. This “It is finished” (John 19:30), of the cross calls in question all other human attempts to gain acceptance. In bringing the Crucified within, the Spirit brings the only ground of our acceptance with God, providing the only genuine title to and fitness for salvation available to us. (Gal 6:14)

There Is A Cloud At The Cross

Now from the sixth hour (noon) there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour (three o’clock). Mat 27:45
I clothe the heavens with [the] blackness [of murky storm clouds], and I make sackcloth [of mourning] their covering. Isa 50:3  

The sixth hour was noon. The darkness was not due to an eclipse of the sun, since the Passover occurred at full moon. This was a supernatural occurrence. I believe, based on similar wording in other scripture, that this could very well have been clouds. Or a cloud.

Perhaps one could say that this first taste of salvation at the cross was found in the cloud? In other, related prophecies, God defends Himself (Isa 42:18-25; Isa 43:22-28) against the implied accusation brought by the unbelieving exiles of the second generation, that He was unwilling or unable to save them. And to many at the cross, it would appear that Jesus was unable, or unwilling to save them. Jesus did not “come down” as they challenged Him to. They did not recognize, in the clouds, Jesus as “The Light of the world,” they did not believe in His ability or intention to save them.”

Today, There Is Light In Every Cloud

I like to draw Scripture lessons from many things we see in nature from day to day. Especially if it’s clouds!

I am reminded of one time while I was hiking. A very thick cloud came over me and it stormed so bad that I had to stop for about twenty minutes and find shelter. I had to keep the camera equipment dry! A couple of days or so after that, I heard on the local news, that just ahead from where I was stopped to take shelter from that storm that there was a very scary and dangerous Cougar encounter by some other hikers.

Sometimes the thick clouds of our personal life and experience will force us to stay put, because the dark clouds are so thick that we can’t see where we are going.We may not even be sure of where we are if it’s too thick or dark. I wonder. Could it be that if that initial storm cloud did not happen, that something much worse than the Cougar encounter might have been waiting for us there? Perhaps a Grizzly with cubs?

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I do know that clouds can offer protection, sometimes by letting through that little bit of light, that every cloud has. Or sometimes, by keeping the light from hurting us when its too intense. Or sometimes by delivering badly needed rain. When we cannot even look at it, like Moses on The Mount, we have limits set for how much we can see of the God who created us.

Each cloud, for me, represents yet another part of the “treasure house of divine blessing.” There is a “ladder” (Gen 28:12) that I will usually use to climb up to whatever Light is showing through each cloud in my experience. Actually, there is always a little bit of light. Light in the clouds. Light in every cloud. Above the cloud. Under the cloud, or even in the cloud itself. Praise The Lord! The “rungs” on said “ladders” are simply made up of God’s promises. It is by God’s promises that I have opened, or will open the “portal” to God’s cloud. To the light in my clouds. Much like a special “key” that will open the door to the eternal riches of His love, mercy, and grace. By the power of His hand, I look for the light of his love, by which I may live in faith, and grow into His image.

Jesus is that Light in the clouds; and of the whole world wherein they glide by above us. Jesus is the Light of the world. (John 8:12). Jesus is THE God of boundless resources. The only real limits are strictly with us humans. People have set the limits. My asking. My thinking. Even my praying. Its all mostly way too small. Too limited.

In each cloud, Jesus is trying to lift me up to a Higher Conception; and to lure me on towards a much stronger expectation and appropriation of His Word. In the clouds: there is no limit to what I may ask of Jesus, and expect of Him. “Light in every cloud.” “Expect it.” My glorious El-Shaddi provides only one measure of His wonderful blessings, and that measure can only and ever be: “by the power that works in me.” (Eph 3:20). THAT power, is God’s promise, in me. (see Rom 1:16). And each time THAT power reaches in tendrils of light, as my Light, through my personal clouds; it always helps me to navigate whatever terrible storm that I am in. And in ‘the beauty of holiness,” each promise arises as another rung in the ladder to heaven. And this “ladder” would also be, one of His promises:

2 Pet 1:3  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 2 Pet 1:4  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through [wrong desires].

God’s promises today are the light in every cloud. Our “ladder” to heaven. (Gen 28:12).

Earlier this week I had asked a friend, who is on our email list if I could pray for them and he said to me:

“No, but please pray for the following people,” and he told me about two situations of great need. Then he said “don’t pray for me, pray for them, and spread the love that way.” That was truly one of those little lights in the clouds this week. I am sure we need to be more selfless like this in our prayers. The world needs this kind of light in their clouds…

“Great and precious promises” refers to the numerous offers of divine provision found in Scripture. These promises offer us the glory and virtue of Christ as the basis for our growing participation in the divine nature. (2 Pet 3:18). We have Christ within us, as He promised (John 14:23), to enable us to become increasingly Christlike (2 Cor 3:18). Because we have become new creatures in Christ, we have already escaped the corruption (the moral ruin) that is in the world through lust (perverted desire). We should make our escape from this world evident to all by our godly behavior and the renewing of our mind (Rom 12:2). These promises are a wonderful and powerful resource (2 Pet 1:1, 2 Pet 1:3) upon which believers may draw for sustaining help, and “Light In The Clouds.”

 

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