Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

Colossians 3:9-11

In Colossians 3:9-11 Paul continues telling us what life as a Christ Follower should look like. We are to put off our old self because we are different people with Jesus in us. Wright explains “When a tide of passion or a surge of anger is felt, it must be dealt with as the alien intruder it really is, and turned out of the house as having no right to be there at all, let alone to be giving orders.” “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” One principle we must remember is that when we put off our old nature, we need to to replace it with our new nature. A void will be filled by something, and we need to make sure it is our new Nature in Christ.

The phrase Paul used was commonly used for changing a set of clothes. We can almost picture a person taking off the old and putting on the new man in Jesus. Guzik explains “Paul is clearly alluding to Genesis, where it is said that God created Adam in His own image. Nevertheless, now that the first Adam is regarded as the old man who should be put off and discarded, because now we are created after the image of the second Adam, Jesus Christ.“ We are to become full of the knowledge that God has made available to us through the written Word, and the direction of the Holy Spirit who lives within us as Christ Followers.

As a new man we are part of a family, which favors no race, nationality, class, culture, sex or ethnicity. It only favors Jesus, because in this new family, Christ is all and in all. “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” This work of the new creation not only deals with the old man and gives us the new man patterned after Jesus Christ; it also breaks down the barriers that separate people. All of these barriers existed in the ancient Roman world; and the power of God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ broke them all down. The barriers in the world today may be different, but the outcome must be the same – unity and family in the Body of Christ.

Bruce explains “In times of persecution slaves showed that they could face the trial and suffer for their faith as courageously as freeborn Romans. The slave-girl Blandina and her mistress both suffered in the persecution which broke out against the churches of the Rhone valley in a.d. 177, but it was the slave-girl who was the hero of the persecution, impressing friend and foe alike as a ‘noble athlete’ in the contest of martyrdom.” He goes on to share “In the arena of Carthage in a.d. 202 a profound impression was made on the spectators when the Roman matron Perpetua stood hand-in-hand with her slave Felicitas, as both women faced a common death for a common faith.” There are many examples of suffering as Christ Followers put this admonition in action in their lives. They suffered for their efforts to be one no matter their current status.

Philippians 2:12-13

In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul exhorts the Philippians to work out their own salvation. He makes a connection between the obedience Jesus showed in following God’s plan, and what he expected of the Christ Followers at Philippi. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” The Philippian believers had a good track record of walking in obedience with God, but Paul reinforces how important it is that they continue.

Guzik explains “We know that Paul did not mean “work so as to earn your own salvation.” Such a statement would contradict the whole of Paul’s gospel. What Paul did mean is to call the Philippians to put forth real effort into their Christian lives. This is not to work their salvation in the sense of accomplishing it, but to work out their salvation – to see it evident in every area of their lives, to activate this salvation God freely gave them. There is a sense in which our salvation is complete, in the sense that Jesus has done a complete work for us. Still there is also a sense in which our salvation is incomplete, in that it is not yet a complete work in us.” Working out our salvation is not about earning it, but making it complete by activating it.

Spurgeon explained Therefore, “These words, as they stand in the New Testament, contain no exhortation to all men, but are directed to the people of God. They are not intended as an exhortation to the unconverted; they are, as we find them in the epistle, beyond all question addressed to those who are already saved through a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul’s writing here is to the believers only. And Muller further explains “The believer must finish, must carry to conclusion, must apply to its fullest consequences what is already given by God in principle… He must work out what God in His grace has worked in.” Paul tells us that this is personal – our own salvation – and we need to begin by working it out through caring for our own soul.

Paul gives us the reason why Christians must work out their salvation with fear and trembling – because God is working in them. Since God has done and is doing a work in us as Christians, we have a greater responsibility to work diligently with fear and trembling regarding our own salvation and walk with the Lord. God’s work in us increases our responsibility; it doesn’t lessen it in any way. God’s work in us extends to the transformation of our will, as well as changing our actions. And the motive that should drive us to work salvation out is to please God as it gives Him pleasure – it is pleasing to Him when we are walking in obedience and completing the salvation He freely gave us through Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-5a

In Ephesians 2:4-5a Paul explains what God has done to respond to the pathetic situation we find ourselves in as humans – sinners with no future without a big save. And he begins this explanation with ‘But God’ which indicates that God does have a plan and can give us victory over the world and the deception of the enemy. Why does God care? After all He made it clear what the expectations are through the Law. But humankind falls short and needs another way. And that’s when the very nature and character of God comes to our aid. “But God, being rich in mercy….” – the first quality God has that comes to our rescue is mercy.

So what is mercy? It is simply God not giving us what we deserve. We are sinners, all of us. And the wages of those sins according to scripture is death. Not just physical death, but eternal spiritual death which equates to forever being separated from God. Clarke explained “As they were corrupt in their nature, and sinful in their practice, they could possess no merit, nor have any claim upon God; and it required much mercy to remove so much misery, and to pardon such transgressions.” God alone is the answer to our sin problem. We’ve all blown it based on our own efforts. We’ve all fallen short of the requirements God has put in place. But His mercy caused Him to take action through Jesus…..

And Paul continues to the second part of God’s nature that allowed him to say ‘but’. It actually explains God’s mercy as Paul says ‘because’. “….because of the great love with which he loved us….” Behind the good news of God’s salvation offered in Jesus is the fact that this mercy and love is extended to us. Not because we deserve it, but because of who He is. Every reason for God’s mercy and love is found in Him. We give Him no reason to love us, yet in the greatness of His love, He loves us with that great love anyway. We need to stop trying to make ourselves lovable to God, and simply receive His great love while recognizing that we are unworthy of it. This is what grace is all about – where we receive what we don’t deserve.

Paul then explains just how far we were gone in our journey of life – we were ‘dead’ – not on life support or just ill. We were dead. Paul explains the past, present and future of God’s plan for us. “….even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ….”

God turned up the love for us when we were completely unlovable, guilty of violating His standards and requirements, and headed to a destiny that was apart from Him. This is the requirement for being saved. You must first be dead, dead to every attempt to justify yourself before God. Guzik explains “This is what God did to those who were dead in sin. He shared in our death so that we could share in His resurrection life. The old man is crucified and we are new creations in Jesus with the old things passing away and all things becoming new.” Jesus is the only way we receive eternal life!

Ephesians 1:18b-20

In Ephesians 1:18b-20 Paul wanted them to know that there are few things give us a more secure and enduring hope in life than simply knowing that God has called us and has a specific calling for us to fulfill. “that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you….” The focus is on the future and as Christ Followers we have a glorious future of resurrection, eternal life, freedom from sin, perfected justification, and glorious elevation above the angels themselves. God hasn’t offered us an ‘ok’ future with His gift of grace – salvation through Christ. God’s offering us an amazing and unbelievable future.

Paul continues by reminding us just how great our inheritance will be. Not only will we receive our inheritance from God, but Paul wanted the Ephesians to understand that they are so precious to God that He considered them His own inheritance. “what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints….” Guzik explains “Knowing our spiritual poverty, we wonder how God can find any inheritance in the saints. Yet God can make riches out of poor men and women because He invests so much in them. He has invested riches of love, riches of wisdom, riches of suffering, riches of glory. These things accrue to a rich inheritance in the saints.”

And Paul goes on wanting us to know how great God’s power is for those who believe. Christ Followers should know they serve and love a God of living power who shows His strength on behalf of His people. “….and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe….” Spurgeon explained “The very same power which raised Christ is waiting to raise the drunkard from his drunkenness, to raise the thief from his dishonesty, to raise the Pharisee from his self-righteousness, to raise the Sadducee from his unbelief.” God offers us access to His power – and we gain that through our prayers.

Paul goes on to explain more about the power that God offers to all who believe. “….according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places….”  The power that works in us is the mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead. With this mighty power available to us, there never needs to be a “power shortage” in the Christian life. It is the mighty power that raised Jesus to heaven after His resurrection, raising Him above all demonic foes and every potential enemy of all time — this same power is at work in us as Christ Followers.

Ephesians 1:11-14

In Ephesians 1:11-14 Paul continues to school us of what we have “In Him”. He begins by reminding us that Jesus is not a judge, but the One in whom we have an inheritance as Christ Followers. We see three aspects of God’s plan working together.

  1. It begins with His purpose
  2. then the counsel of His will
  3. and finally results in His work

God made His plan carefully according to an eternal purpose, taking counsel within the Godhead, and then He works with all wisdom.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” Morgan wrote “Our God is a God who not only wills; He works; and He works according to His will… The word counsel stands for deliberate planning and arranging, in which the ways and means of carrying out the will are considered and provided for.” God has a plan and we are part of God’s plan for the world we live in and the humanity we are engaged with. We are here to fulfill His purpose following His will doing His work.

God’s purpose in all this is so that those who have trusted Christ will live to praise Him in all His glory. The goal of God’s ultimate plan is to glorify Him. And God involves all mankind in this plan. Here He speaks of Jewish believers. (those who were the first to hope in Christ) The words “you also” in Ephesians 1:13 speak of Gentile believers. God’s great plan has a place for both Jew and Gentile, and it brings them both together in Jesus. We are all on the planet for the same ultimate outcome – to spend our lives following His purpose living out His will doing His work that we may live a life pleasing to God filled with praise and glory unto Him.

Paul continues with the next thing we will receive “In Him”. After we hear God’s Word, understand salvation and believe in Jesus, we are sealed by the Spirit to a guaranteed inheritance. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Gaebelein explains “The seal is therefore the Holy Spirit Himself, and His presence in the believer denotes ownership and security. The sealing with the Spirit is not an emotional feeling or some mysterious inward experience.” We have this guarantee until we “acquire possession” by God through resurrection and glorification — again, all to the praise of His glory.

Galatians 4:25-27

In Galatians 4:25-27 Paul continues to explain the covenants God made with us. The first was related to Mount Sinai and corresponds to Jerusalem or the capital of religious Judaism. Most Jewish people in Paul’s day tried to be right with God by trusting in their ability to please God by keeping the law. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.” But that approach falls short because none of us can keep the law and meet God’s requirements to achieve salvation on our own. We only have hope for salvation through the second covenant God gave us.

That is associated with Jerusalem and Mount Zion – but not the Mount Zion of this earth. Instead, it is associated with the Jerusalem above – God’s own New Jerusalem in heaven. Paul makes a third contrast between Christianity and legalism comparing them to heaven and earth. Real Christianity comes from heaven, not what we can accomplish on earth. “But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.” This covenant brings freedom – it is free. It is free because it recognizes that Jesus paid the price, and we don’t have to pay it ourselves. We could never pay the price for our sin – only Jesus can do that.

The new covenant has many children and is the mother of us all. Every Christian for all ages belongs to this new covenant. As believers, we are reborn through the miracle of God’s grace. “For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! or the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” Paul makes a fourth contrast between Christianity and legalism – namely that the new covenant would have more followers than the many who attempted to follow the Law.

Guzik compares ‘The “Ishmaels” – Legalism vs. The “Isaacs” – True Christianity

  • Slavery and bondage vs. Freedom
  • Ishmael: born according to the flesh vs. Isaac: born by God’s promised miracle
  • Coming from the earthly Jerusalem vs. Coming from the heavenly Jerusalem
  • Many children vs. Many more children
  • Persecuting vs. Persecuted
  • Inheriting nothing vs. Inheriting everything
  • Relationship based on law-keeping vs. Relationship based on trusting God’

God knew we needed a Savior as we as humans were incapable of obedience to the Law so we could save ourselves. So Jesus came to earth to fulfill the new covenant and give us salvation through grace – True Christianity!

Galatians 3:23-29

In Galatians 3:23-29 Paul continues his explanation of grace through faith as compared to the law. Before we were saved by faith; before we lived our lives by faith, we were held captive by the law. We were imprisoned by the law. Our sin does that to us. The law does play an important part in that it shows us God’s standard and makes known the need for a Savior. “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.” It acts as a guardian, pointing us to the need for grace. That’s what Jesus provided us through His death on the Cross. “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.”

The whole purpose of the law is to bring us to Jesus. Therefore, if someone doesn’t present the Law in a manner that brings people to faith in Jesus, they aren’t presenting the Law properly. The way Jesus presented the Law was to show people that they could not fulfill it, and needed to look outside of their law-keeping. “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to God except through faith in Him. When we receive Him through faith, we become children of God – something we can never lose.

Paul illustrates what it means to have faith in Christ. We are to be baptized into Christ. Just as in water baptism a person is immersed in water, so when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, we are immersed in Jesus. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” We must understand that this is the baptism that really saves us: our immersion into Jesus. If a person isn’t baptized into Christ, he could be dunked a thousand times into water and it would make no eternal difference. Once we are baptized into Christ by receiving Him as our personal Savior, then we can follow through with water immersion to demonstrate our faith in Christ.

The whole problem among the Galatian Christians is that some wanted to still observe the dividing line between Jew and Greek. They wanted some division. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” But Paul makes it clear we are all the same in Jesus. There is no differentiation. Morris wrote “He is saying that when people are saved by Jesus Christ they are brought into a marvelous unity, a unity between the saved and the Saviour and a unity that binds together all the saved.” And that salvation through faith makes us an heir to the Kingdom as children of God. “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

Galatians 3:19-22

In Galatians 3:19-22 Paul continues his clarification around the law and grace. He begins by explaining the purpose of the law. Part of the reason God gave the law was to clearly reveal His standard for living. He had to give us His standard so we would not destroy ourselves before the Messiah came. “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.” It also shows us the need for a Savior as we fall short through our rebellion against God’s standard.

Guzik explains “According to ancient traditions – true traditions, according to Paul – the Law was delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai by the hands of angels. Angels were the “go-between” or mediator for Moses when he received the Law from God. Moses needed a mediator between himself and God, but we don’t need a mediator between us and Jesus – He is our mediator. The law was a two-party agreement brought by mediators. Salvation in Jesus by faith is received by a promise.” “Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” God’s promise of salvation through Christ was superior to the law because the law was mediated by more than one. Salvation is one way – God’s gift of grace through Christ’s death on the Cross.

Paul asks a compelling question. “Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.” The law does not contradict the promises of God. The law exposes our sin and the desperate need we have for a Savior. And because it sets God’s standard for how we must live to earn salvation on our own, it shows clearly that we’re doomed in our attempts to follow it. Righteousness will never come by the law – we can’t live good enough to achieve it on our own. We need a Savior to experience eternal life.

Paul paints a picture of us being imprisoned by sin. The bars of the cell are sin and they keep us confined and separated from God. Scripture puts us in prison because it clearly points out how short we fall from God’s standard. “But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” Fortunately, God made a way for us to overcome the prison that sin puts us in. Luther explains “When the Law drives you to the point of despair, let it drive you a little farther, let it drive you straight into the arms of Jesus who says: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ ”

Galatians 3:15-18

In Galatians 3:15-18 Paul continues explaining God’s plan for salvation. He establishes the principle that even with a covenant among men, the covenant stands firm once it is made – you don’t add to or subtract from it. The point is not what happens between men, but that if that’s how covenants work for humans, we can pretty much be sure it’s that much more certain in any covenant that God makes. “To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.” And God has made a covenant with man that we can trust.

God promised Abraham back in Genesis 22 that his offspring would be blessed for all generations. It wasn’t a plural blessing – there was no ‘s’ on offspring – but it referred to Jesus Christ who was a specific offspring of Abraham and God’s way for blessing to be given to all. So even thousands of years ago, God had a plan for the world He created – and that plan was Jesus. That was His promise. “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.”

Guzik explains “If the inheritance offered to Abraham was on the basis of law, it might not be permanent – because it would depend, at least in part, on Abraham’s keeping of the law. But since the inheritance was offered on the basis of promise, God’s promise, it stands sure.” Salvation does not depend on what Abraham, or anyone other that Jesus Christ, has or will ever do. God’s promise to Abraham came before the law was even created, and His promise of salvation through faith to Abraham is still the promise we claim. “This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.”

God gave Abraham a promise. The word gave here is the ancient Greek word kecharistai, which is based on the Greek word charis – grace. God’s giving to Abraham was the free giving of grace. The word is also in the perfect tense, showing that the gift is permanent. God made a once for all promise of grace to Abraham. It wasn’t something that depended on performance by anything other than the faith and belief to receive that gift. Jesus did all the work. All that mankind has to do is receive God’s gift of grace through Christ based on the promise God made to Abraham. Salvation is that simple. It’s God grace promised to Abraham centuries ago that applies to us today and forever. “For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.”

Galatians 3:11-14

In Galatians 3:11-14 Paul continues to focus on grace as God granted it through the death of Jesus on the Cross. He has already proven that no one can be justified by the law, not because of the law, but because no human is able to completely follow it. So faith is the only way to receive grace that will cover us from our sins. “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Paul quotes Habakkuk’s statement that the righteous shall live by faith – one of the most quoted statements from the Old Testament in the New Testament where it is quoted three different times.

The Old Testament tells us that approval by God through the law must be earned by actually living in obedience to the law, not just trying. Close enough doesn’t count, we have to live the law completely and perfectly if that is going to be our way to God. We can’t, and we won’t, so Jesus is the only way. “But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” You might think something like this: “Look, I’ll do the best I can under the law and let faith cover the rest. God will look at my performance, my effort, and my good intentions and credit to me as righteousness. The important thing is that I am really trying.”

Good intentions won’t cut it. Trying hard isn’t going to be enough. Doing your best and then letting grace cover the rest is not how it works. Paul is clear that salvation comes from one place and one place only – the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. That’s the only source of grace that will cover our sin. Without that, we’re doomed. We will be destined for eternity separated from God. It’s not a maybe proposition. We either deal with our sin through faith in Jesus Christ, or we face the consequences. And it is important to remember that eternity is a very long time to spend apart from the loving God who created us.

Paul makes it clear here-Jesus is the way we can remove the curse of sin from our life. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” Morris wrote “Redemption points to the payment of a price that sets sinners free.” We have to be redeemed to enter heaven. Jesus paid the price to rescue us. Jesus became cursed on our behalf; He stood in our place and took the curse we deserved. Jesus received this curse, which we deserved and He did not, so that we could receive the blessing of Abraham, which He deserved and we did not. That’s how much God loved us – enough to send His only Son to the Cross so we could spend eternity with Him if we only believe and receive His free gift of grace which is our salvation!

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