Monday, January 25, 2016

You Can Know You're Saved, part one

Many Christians admittedly struggle with assurance of salvation. They have a difficult time accepting the notion that there are promises for the next life guaranteed in Christ. Hope in God is pitted against a seemingly uncertain future. Questions like, "Am I really saved?" or "Will I really go to heaven when I die?" are a real challenge for some, and fuel the fire of doubt and skepticism. 


The following two posts are written to those who struggle with the surety of salvation. The chart below will be used as a reference for both entries. If you want to use it, let me know by contacting me via the tab above.



PERSPECTIVE

The first step in understanding the reality of salvation is understanding the reality of God's bigger picture. It's eternal.

As human beings, we're incredibly inadequate when it comes to understanding eternity. We are finite creatures who have definite beginnings, definite endings, and a short life that spans the gap between. We are in finite bodies and have finite capabilities. On top of all of that, we're naturally sinful and not so much inclined to consider things from an eternal perspective. We're much more comfortable worrying about what's on TV Friday night or how we can pay off our mortgages over the next fifteen years. Eternity is much bigger than us.

God's perspective is very different from that of humans, though. Yahweh lives in eternity. He exists in the past, present, and future, with no exceptions. He's not bound by time or space and all that exists is His. He's the Maker, the Owner, and the Infinite One. He's absolutely eternal. Therefore, all that God does has ramifications outside of time and space, not just inside of them. (Isaiah 43 is a great place to start a study on this if you're curious.)

This is the approach a Christian must have when considering the ramifications of the Lord's salvation. If God is the only Eternal, and if God is the only One who saves, then His salvation must be eternal, not merely temporal (i.e., bound by time).

For this reason, I will refer to the salvation of God as eternal salvation throughout the rest of the study. The significance of this designation is that God's salvation extends both ways -- past and future -- throughout eternity. Most people think of salvation as being eternal only toward the future, but as evidenced in Scripture, it's clear that God's eternal salvation is timeless in nature, meaning its origins and purposes are fixed in the time before time: eternity past. 


PARTICULAR PEOPLE

The Bible is absolutely clear that God chose particular people in eternity past to be recipients of His eternal salvation. It's called election

In his letter to the believers at Ephesus, Paul stated:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise and glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

The passage speaks of God choosing and predestining a certain group of people ("us") in the past tense. It took place "before the foundation of the world," or, in other words, in eternity past. God was selecting people before He said, "Let there be light." 

Look at the purpose of the choosing and predestining. The reason why God committed these actions before the individuals were ever brought into the world was so that they would be "holy and blameless before Him," as well as adopted "as sons through Jesus Christ," bringing glory to His name. Before creation began -- in eternity past -- the Lord set aside certain individuals to be recipients of His eternal salvation.

These particular people receive eternal salvation during their temporal time on earth. The eternal salvation certainly has effects and ramifications for their time in the world, but the roots of it go all the way back to before creation and the fruits of it extend into eternity future. Just as we can fully enjoy the wonders of the all-encompassing heavens though we only see a sliver of it at a time, God's eternal salvation can be enjoyed on earth though it extends much farther than we naturally consider.  

The the Lord's timeline in regards to His eternal salvation continues on and on in one direction, and just as far in the other. He starts working before time, establishing an eternal salvation that goes beyond time. In his letter to the Romans, Paul, under the inspiration of God, sums up this idea:    

And we know that God causes all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

There's more to say about this eternal salvation and how it fits with the present and the future. We'll look into that next time.

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