Part 3. Salvation

The Nicene Creed tells of Jesus Christ:

Who for us humans, and for our salvation came down from heaven,
[…]
And was made man,

(it is recommended that the previous posts in the series be read before this one)

A true Christianity rooted in history, proclaims one truth. Jesus Christ came; Jesus Christ died; Jesus Christ rose from the dead in new life; and Jesus Christ came for humanity that we might be saved. While yes, some may view this idea as anachronistic prescientific babble, it is also a belief held by a large number of people on this world, rapidly growing in traditionally non-Christian parts of the world even as the historically Christian West has come to question what it once held to be true (I myself am a testament to this in that I, an Asian, reflect part of a changing Christian demographic worldwide). What is this salvation that so many, and myself, have put hope in and how is it obtained?

In my last post I went over how humanity has placed themselves over God, alienating themselves from him and earning for us the wrath of God, and marring the image of God that humanity was created in and this is where I left off, and if this was all there was, the Christian God would be fully justified in leaving us to separation from him for eternity. Yet, the message of Christianity goes further than that, so much further. St. Augustine, in his Lecture 110 on John says “in a wonderful and divine manner, even when he hated us, he loved us. [1]” And this love is why Jesus sent his son in divine mercy to satisfy (propitiate) the wrath of God and allow us to stand before him though we have before rejected him. This is salvation, reconciliation with God so that we may at once be able to again have communion with a God that is both holy and just but also loving.

So should we desire salvation out of mere fear of just punitive condemnation from God? Well I suppose you can, and for a time I certainly felt this way. But I now say no, in that while we should have some measure of fear for God is both just and holy, punishment not the incentive people tend to stay Christian, or at least for those that have a deep commitment to their faith, for fear does not lead to love. Indeed, John writes that “perfect love casts out fear “ [2]. See, the scriptures tell Christians that we have a deep assurance of our hope [3], and since those that believe in Christ no longer have to fear the punishment of God, we are free to focus our lives on the original purpose of humanity, the communion of God with humanity in a relationship so deep that it ends with humanity becoming “partakers of the divine nature” [4]. In this, Christianity presents a high form of humanism, a form of humanism capitalized on by people such as Petrarch and Erasmus during the European Renaissance and a humanism that says that this life is not all there is and in perfection humanity will become far more than we on this earth can ever imagine (though certainly a reality that will not be seen in this life).

How then is that we receive salvation, that infusion of life by Christ into we who were once dead in our sins, and begin our journey to the celestial city [5]? We do so by believing on Jesus Christ and his work on the cross, and confessing that he is indeed Lord and that he has conquered the grave in his resurrection, his victory over death [6]. Additionally Christians are to be baptized, fully symbolizing a person’s regeneration and engrafting into the church, a public confession of the dedication of a life to Jesus Christ, his teachings, and his church.

The scriptures tell us that Jesus Christ died because he showed perfect love. The famous verse John 3.16 tells us that “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him might not perish but have everlasting life.” And that because he died, it is by the cross that we can have forgiveness of our wrongs against God such as that those that Peter says “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins [7].” And Paul writes “if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved [8].” All this because there is only one way to salvation, Jesus Christ, who is “the way, the truth and the life [9].”

I call upon all those that read this to confess Jesus Christ as Lord. For Christians to reaffirm their baptismal vows, and for those who might not be Christian to also ask God to show them what is true and right. Let us all renounce the Adversary, to renounce all his works and false promises and believe on our one God, and Jesus Christ who is one with God and also our mediator with God and let us be faithful to that shed blood of Jesus Christ that has offered us all salvation from our sins and allowed us once more a relationship with God.

Let us all pray:

Almighty God, I come before you with a contrite heart, recognizing that I need salvation. Have mercy on me and grant me your grace shown to humanity in your Son’s death.  I confess that Jesus Christ has died, but also that he has rose again, overcoming death and freeing those that believe on his name from the condemnation of death and I, at this moment, confess Jesus Christ as Lord, recognizing that he is the way, and that by him I might receive life. I also pray that you might continue to show me more of your truth as I seek to learn about your truth. Amen.

Part 3 in a series on Basic Christian Theology, Part 2D will follow this post.

References

[1] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701110.htm Tract Jo. 110.6
[2] I John 4.18
[3] 1 John 5.
[4] 2 Peter 1.4, Psalm 82.6
[5] A reference to John Bunyan’s allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress.
[6] Catholics, Orthodox, and some Anglicans/Episcopalians and some Lutherans will also say that baptism or the intent to be baptized is also essential to the regeneration of a person in Christ. I leave it as secondary as per my evangelical leanings. However, They should also be inseparably linked in that baptism should naturally follow from conversion because it signifies that we have indeed confessed one Lord, Jesus Christ. To say “I am Christian” but “I don’t want to be baptized” is one of the greatest false dichotomies of beleiver’s baptism.
[7] Acts 2.38
[8] Romans 10.8
[9] John 14.6

Advertisements

One thought on “Part 3. Salvation

  1. Well said, Hutima. I believe that your revelation of love over fear is a preferrable view. As a balance to the Latin Western view, may I recommend a look at “The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church” by Vladimir Lossky, if you have not read it. I think it will appeal to your “noetic faculty”. Blessings, Brother

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s