WHAT SALVATION IS ALL ABOUT
WHAT SALVATION IS ALL ABOUT Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
I have been told that Wesleyan preaching was the same as minethat character transformation and salvation are synonymous. It may be true that in our day this understanding will become critical in Christian thinking; or it may be true that only a warlike remnant will escape being part of Laodicea, Babylon, and the False Prophet.
WHAT SALVATION IS ALL ABOUT
While I was praying on Easter Sunday (4/16/2006) the Spirit of God made an issue more clear to me than ever before. Many years ago the Lord impressed on me that eternal residence in Heaven is not the scriptural goal of salvation. During subsequent years the promise of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth has become ever clearer.
This Sunday morning the meaning of "salvation" entered forcefully into my mind and spirit with directness and simplicity. Hopefully I will have opportunity to spread what I believe has been revealed to me.
Perhaps the best place to start is the concept of "redemption." To redeem a person or property is to buy back the person or property from someone who has gained or seized him or it by forfeiture of some kind, or by force.
By obeying Satan rather than God, mankind became the slave of Satan, such that people portray the person and will of Satan rather than the person and will of God. Man no longer is in the image of God but in the image of Satan.
Make sure the two paragraphs above are clear in your mind, because what we have to say further will build on this fact.
In my explanation of the meaning of salvation, or redemption, I am going to use both terms synonymously. However, salvation refers primarily to the preservation of our personality, while redemption refers to a change of possession, that is, whether or not we still are bound to Satan in some manner or have become united with God through Christ.
We are saved (preserved) in the sight of God. We are redeemed from the power of the enemy. Satan is our enemy.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say thisthose he redeemed from the hand of the foe, (Psalms 107:2NIV)
If we are to be able to understand the meaning of salvation, or redemption, we will have to hold clearly in our mind that we are not redeemed from the earth but from Satan.
I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them To open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. (Acts 26:17,18NIV)
Thus, salvation, or redemption, has to do with our release from the chains of sin rather than with eternal residence in the spirit world (Heaven).
It would be correct to say we are being redeemed; we are working out our salvation. It is not accurate to say we were saved at some previous time, because salvation, or redemption, is a process that leads to Gods image. We are not "saved" until we have persevered to the end of the program. It would be more correct to state we have been sealed for the Day of Redemption.
The paragraph above is worthy of our deepest consideration. Although it obviously is true, I know of no instance in current teaching where being saved is viewed as release from the chains of the world, from the lusts of the flesh, and from self-will. Historically there may have been such teaching, as in the doctrine of John Wesley for example. But it never has taken hold to any great extent. The biblical concept of redemption appears to be missing from our thinking.
If you doubt this, ask any Christians of your acquaintance, or any unsaved person for that matter, what is the result of being "saved." It is quite likely that not one person in a million, saved or unsaved, will answer that we are saved, or redeemed, from the power of Satan. Every individual, even in other religions, will answer that we are saved in order to go to a spirit paradise when we die, there to live forever free from the pains and frustrations of life on the earth.
If I am correct in saying that very few people understand the goal of salvation, then we have need for an overhaul of Christian thinking. Doesnt it sound that way to you?
If it is true that salvation, or redemption, consists of deliverance from the possession of Satan such that we are preserved in the Presence of God, are formed in His image, and are dwelling with Christ in the center of the Person and will of God, then the question becomes when, where, and how such redemption will take place.
As of now the believers are looking forward to going to Heaven to live forever, whether by death or by an unscriptural "rapture." They appear to be assuming that such movement from earth to Heaven is equivalent to salvation or redemption. But what passage of Scripture supports this common belief?
As the Lord Jesus prayed, the object is not to take us out of the world but to protect us from the evil one.
Does going to Heaven result in our being saved, that is, freed from the control of Satan and brought into the image and will of God? What passage implies that it does? Does release from our love for and trust in the world system, release from the filthy passions of our flesh and spirit, and release from our tendency to perform our own will rather than following Christ in self-denial and cross-carrying obediencedo these three releases occur when we die or are "raptured" into the spirit realm?
Consider: sin began in Heaven around the Throne of God when Satan chose to exalt himself above the Father. Many angels followed Satan. The Lake of Fire has been prepared for them. They were in Heaven. Yet, they sinned. Also, the demons that harass us constantly, inflaming our love of the world, the lusts of our flesh and spirit, and our self-will, live in the spirit world.
If this is true, then on what basis do we hope that our entrance into the spirit world will redeem us from the chains of Satan? What logic provides the basis for our hope? What passage of Scripture provides the basis for our hope?
If entrance into the spirit world does not redeem us from the hand of the enemy, does not release us from the chains of sin and self-will that bind us, then it must be true that dying and entering the spirit world does not automatically save us, that is, if we view salvation as deliverance from the power of sin.
Salvation, or redemption, is release from the power of Satan. We have not been saved, or redeemed, until we are in the image of God in personality and behavior, and finally in body. To claim that being "saved by grace," or by "accepting Christ," redeems us from the hand of the enemy is contradicted by the fact that Christian people claim to be "forgiven but not perfect." By this we understand that they realize they still are bound with many sins, even though they have been forgiven through the blood atonement.
Is it possible to be forgiven on the basis of the blood atonement made by Christ, and still not be saved, or redeemed? If our above statements are true, then yesone can be forgiven on the basis of the blood atonement and yet not be redeemed from the image and behavior of Satan.
It is obvious to unsaved people, and to the members of other religions, that Christian people have not been redeemed from the hand of the enemy. The Christians can speak of being new creations in Christ. This is the position they take by faith, but it has not as yet been brought into reality. Until it has been brought into reality, they have not been redeemed.
The New Testament speaks of the coming of the Day of Redemption in the future. If we have placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been sealed for the Day of Redemption.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30NIV)
Who through faith are shielded by Gods power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5NIV)
So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28NIV)
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11NIV)
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24NIV)
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23NIV)
It may be understood from the above verses that salvation is in the future; that Paul was looking forward to release from the sinful nature; that Pauls view of redemption was the filling of his body with the Holy Spirit. The redemption of his body would be the answer to his prayer in Romans 7:24. When the Lord Jesus spoke of not perishing but of having eternal life (John 3:16), He was referring to the redemption of our body, to that which was lost in the Garden of Eden. It is the body that perishes in physical death.
When Jesus spoke of enduring to the end that we may be saved, He meant enduring the processes of redemption that we finally might be freed from Satan. It is another way of looking at salvation, isnt it?
The Father has given the Lake of Fire authority over eight behaviors. These behaviors never will be permitted in the Kingdom of God, not by grace, mercy, forgiveness, belief in Christ, or any other means. When we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior the authority of the Lake of Fire is suspended; but it never is waived. The salvation that is in the Lord Jesus Christ, by forgiving us and providing us with many forms of Divine Virtue, gives us an opportunity to be delivered from the eight behavior listed in Revelation 21:8. It is this deliverance that itself is salvation, or redemption.
But if we are unwilling to be changed, we, whether or not we call Jesus "Lord," will be claimed by the Lake of Fire.
But does the New Testament tell Christian people that they cannot inherit the Kingdom of God as long as they continue to sin? Yes, in several places.
And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21NIV
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8NIV)
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy personsuch a man is an idolaterhas any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5NIV)
Is it possible that we can be saved and go to Heaven and live forever and yet not inherit the Kingdom of God? I do not believe any serious Bible student would care to defend that position.
It is obvious the above passages are referring to Christian people. First of all, the passages were addressed to the Christian churches. Second, if they were addressed to unsaved people it would be implying the unsaved could enter the Kingdom of God by not engaging in the specified behaviors.
To say no true Christian would engage in these behaviors would be to eliminate most of the Christian believers of the past and the present. Such reasoning is specious. This is in fact the way in which Christians behave. A common expression among Christian people is, "As long as we are in the world we are going to sin." By this they mean they have not found the program of redemption from the chains of Satan. Although their sins have been forgiven, they still are the slaves of sin.
The expression "saved by grace" means, in current usage, that our sins have been forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ and now we are eligible to live forever in the spirit Paradise. It is understood that we have not been delivered from the power of the enemy, just forgiven. The Bible does not teach that the power of God is limited to forgiving us; that it cannot deliver us from Satan. If God could only forgive us, but not deliver us, then we are doomed. It would be best we never had been born!
The feasts of the Lord (Leviticus, Chapter Twenty-three) provide a useful outline of the program of redemption. The feasts begin with the covering of the Passover blood, and conclude with the feast of Tabernacles, which portrays the dwelling of the Father and the Son in the personality of the believer.
Just prior to Tabernacles, and after the major convocation of Pentecost, the Day of Atonement takes place. The Day of Atonement portrays in symbolic form the total reconciliation to God of the human personality.
During the Day of Atonement, two goats were used to make an atonement for the sins of the people of Israel. The first goat was slain and its blood was sprinkled before the Mercy Seat. The second goat was not slain, but the sins of Israel were confessed over it and it was led away into the wilderness.
The meaning seems apparent. The atonement includes both forgiveness of sin through the blood sacrifice, and also the removal of sin. If it did not include both forgiveness and the removal of sin, our future, as I stated previously, would be grim indeed!
The spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement shall continue until there is no sin left in the Kingdom of God. All sin shall be confined in the Lake of Fire.
Seventy "sevens" are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (Daniel 9:24NIV)
"To put an end to sin"! "An end to sin"! Not an end to guilt, but an end to sin, that is, to sinful behavior.
If we are not saved, or redeemed, until the power of Satan has been broken in our personality, the important question is how, when, and where does our redemption from the hand of the enemy take place?
The "when" is stated in Chapter Thirteen of the Book of Matthew.
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:40,41NIV)
The "where" is not stated. I would suggest redemption can take place in either the spirit world or on the earth. Peter writes that the time has come for God to judge the living and the dead. Since the judgment falls on Satan and his works, we may infer that redemption from the hand of the enemy is not bound by our location at the time the work of deliverance takes place.
The "how" embraces all of the Divine grace given to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. The program of redemption begins with the blood atonement. We have to be forgiven if we are to start on the program of salvation. Christ prepared a place for us by going to the cross, and then ascending to the Father, there to cleanse the sanctuary in the heavens.
We must keep in mind that the end result of bringing us perfectly into the image of Christ, and into untroubled rest in the Person and will of the Father, necessitates not only the removal of sin from our personality but also the forming of Christ in our personality. The removal of sin and the forming of Christ work together to create the new personality in the image and will of God.
God has given us many forms of Divine Virtue that by these we might be partakers of the Divine Nature.
We have access in prayer into the Most Holy place in Heaven that we may obtain Divine wisdom and strength through which we can overcome the evil one.
We have the born-again experience in which the Seed of God is planted in us.
We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
We are nourished with the body and blood of Christ as we choose to obey the Holy Spirit at all times.
We have the covering of the Passover blood of the cross to protect us when the judgment of God falls on the idols of the world.
We have the words of the Old and New Testaments to guide us
We have the testimony of the Apostles of the Lamb.
We have water baptism as a sign that we have washed away our sins and now are going to serve the Lord.
We count that we have been crucified with Christ and now are learning to live by His Life.
We have the fellowship of other disciples.
We have the gifts and ministries of the Spirit of God.
We have the example of the men and women of God of the Old Testament.
Soon we will have the fullness of the indwelling of the Father and the Son, and then a sin-free body from Heaven that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones.
But do we have a part to play in our redemption from the hand of the enemy?
Yes. We must pray without ceasing.
We must meditate daily in the Scriptures, if they are available to us, and obey them with the enablement provided by the Spirit of God.
We must add to our faith moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love, patience, and courage.
We must obey the commands of Christ and His Apostles sternly, as well as the personal commands given to us by the Lord.
We must endure hardship.
We must confess our sins and turn away from them, as the Holy Spirit guides us
We must gather as often as we can with fervent saints.
We must present our body a living sacrifice that we always may be aware of Gods will.
We must give of our material possessions as the Lord guides us.
We must seek the wisdom and will of Christ in every decision throughout the day and night.
We must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus Christ at all times.
We must live a righteous, holy, obedient life, always increasing in consecration, diligence, and integrity.
The above is what it means to be a victorious saint and to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. There are some who are doing this, and they are making progress in redemption.
The standard held up in the preaching of salvation is far too low in America at this time. The future shall reveal Gods attitude toward us, and the salvation He has prepared for us. We have been sealed that we may be preserved and delivered in that Day.
Whoever chooses to live as a disciple, working out his or her salvation with fear and trembling, will inherit all that the Father is making new in the Lord Jesus Christ. God shall be his Father, and he shall be Gods son.
The Lake of Fire no longer can claim him. He has been redeemed from the hand of the enemy and changed into the image of God.