Important Note To Students And Teachers
Two situations must be addressed among Christians. First, too many Christians doubt God's assurance of their salvation. Some who are in Christ have little confidence in God's destruction of their sins. An even larger group in Christ fear they made God's forgiveness "null and void" because they have imperfect, mistake-marred lives. Far too many men and women in Christ fear being in Christ is not enough. Deep within their hearts and minds, these Christians conclude "being saved is 100% up to me--and I know I am not good enough to be saved." The result: too many Christians approach both life and death with an enormous sense of dread. Too often feelings of guilt and dread are greater burdens in Christians than such feelings are in many who do not claim to be Christians. What God intends to be a source of assurance and security becomes a source of doubt and insecurity.
Second, too many Christians regard salvation to be a straightforward business deal with God. It is nothing more than an agreement. "If I agree to render 'X' obedience to 'Y' requirements, God agrees to save me." Or, "If I keep my part of our agreement, God is obligated to keep His." This view too often causes a person to place his or her faith in what I do instead of what God did in Jesus' death and resurrection. The result can be spiritually devastating. Salvation becomes exclusively a matter of external human acts. The person's heart, attitudes, motives, and transformation are irrelevant because I am keeping my part of our agreement.
Salvation is a created opportunity produced by the eternal God. The God who brought this physical universe into existence; the God who gave us life; the God who gave us the power of independent choices; the God who formed the nation of Israel in order to bring Jesus into the world; the God who allowed His son to become human; the God who allowed Jesus to die on a cross to appease the consequences of evil; the God who raised Jesus' dead body to life; that God created our opportunity for eternal forgiveness. People did not and do not create the reality of salvation. Salvation is designed by, produced by, and offered by the living God.
The power that allows salvation to be real is not in us. It is in God. The power is located in what God did in Jesus' death and resurrection. Certainly, each of us must respond to God's actions in Jesus. However, our obedient response never is salvation's power source. God's work through Jesus Christ is always salvation's power source.
Salvation is God's gift (Ephesians 2:1-10). All any person can do is accept God's gift. Certainly, accepting the gift involves commitment and responsibility. Certainly, God has purposes and intentions for all who accept His gift. However, our commitment to Christ and our responsible response to being in Christ in no way alters the fact that salvation is God's gift.
Accepting the gift is simple. God made it simple. God knew if salvation is to be universal and cross cultural, accepting it has to be simple. However, the foundation principles on which salvation stands are as deep and complex as God's mind.
Why should any Christian seek to understand as much as possible about the foundations of salvation? (1) Growing in an understanding of salvation's foundations is a significant form of prevention. It prevents the person from placing faith in self (or other humans) instead of placing faith in God. (2) Growing in an understanding of salvation's foundations increases a person's spiritual maturity. One significant objective of being in Christ is to spiritually mature. (3) Growing in an understanding of salvation's foundations increases a person's appreciation of God. That understanding produces gratitude. Gratitude strengthens relationship with God. (4) Growing in an understanding of salvation's foundations produces faith. Increasing faith reduces doubt.
One quarter's study can be no more than an introduction to the foundations of salvation. May this study be your springboard to deeper studies. May it be your springboard to greater confidence in God. May it be your springboard to greater confidence in your salvation.
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