Category Archives: salvation
Friends: Due to the Coronavirus I am not allowed to meet face-to-face with my Kirkland cohort (many are lifers) for the next few weeks. I’m providing a couple of videos for them to watch. And you might like what I’ve done! This one is about 15 minutes long. Let me know what you think! Dr. D.
As we continue looking at prominent themes in the epistle to the Colossians, we move on to Chapter 2. There we read —
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Do we think too much about our personal salvation? Or too little? This paragraph focuses on what it means to be right with God through the Lord Jesus. Notice the several images Paul uses:
1. Circumcision/Uncircumcision: This is a painful image for guys, but a powerful sign for the Jewish nation. Paul uses this picture to speak of spiritual circumcision and how we needed Christ to do that internal work in us (note in verse 11 that we were circumcised by Christ!). Before conversion we were DEAD in our sins and in the uncircumcision of our flesh.
2. Life/Death: We were spiritually dead before God made us alive with Christ. Do most people recognize that they are spiritual corpses before salvation? No life in them. No ability to do anything good to save themselves. Just waiting for the funeral service. And notice that we have been “made alive with Christ.” We have been raised up with Him!
3. Forgiven/the Debt Cancelled: We read that “He forgave us all our sins.” Not just the big ones. All our sins! And He cancelled the bill! He not only took the bill away, He nailed it to the cross! What an amazing statement! Jesus did some nailing of His own when He was on the cross.
4.Disarming the Powers and Authorities: The area of “spiritual warfare” (how we relate to the demonic world) seems to be a prominent focus in Colossians. We know that the devil and his minions are the enemies of the believer. What has Christ done about that? He has disarmed them. He has also “made a public spectacle of them” and has triumphed “over them by the cross.” This dimension of reality — of angels and demons — may not be overt to us, but it is real and Christ has won!
If we could only look behind the scenes, if we could only have a bit of God’s perspective on how lost we were before Christ saved us, we would appreciate our salvation so much more. We were not in a spiritually-neutral position before God. But Christ’s redemptive work changed all that!
Savor those truths today — and perhaps share with someone else what an incredible gift salvation is!
We are thinking about major themes which the Apostle Paul emphasizes in this incredible letter. We’ve seen his great emphasis on the labor of prayer and the truth that one can never over-worship the Lord Jesus. But we can’t leave Colossians 1 without noticing Paul’s great description of our salvation:
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (Ch. 1)
I’ve been an alien. Not an Area 51-UFO-kind of alien, but a “resident alien” in Canada before we became dual citizens. How does one move from being an alien of God to being a friend of God? The answer, of course, is God’s reconciling work through the Lord Jesus! Please note that it was through “Christ’s physical body through death” that our reconciliation was accomplished. And His goal? Not just to save us, but to present us holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation!
Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #22): Chapter 21- “A Final Question”
The last chapter of Martin Thielen’s book What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? is entitled”A Final Question” and is subtitled Do Mainline Christians Believe in Getting Saved? This is a critical question! He answers his question in the affirmative — mainline churches, he says, believe in getting saved.
He suggests that people can get saved two different ways: (1) by a sudden affirming of faith in Jesus, and (2) by a gradual justification. He makes three affirmations about salvation: (1) Salvation is a lifelong process; (2) We are saved by God’s grace; and (3) Salvation requires a human response. Thielen speaks about God’s prevenient grace (“grace that goes before”). Calling it God’s “preceding” or “preparing” grace, he means that God works in us to gradually (or, in the case of some, suddenly) bring one to faith. [I don’t have a major problem with the Wesleyan concept of prevenient grace (I think John 1:9 fits here: “9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.“), having taught a course on Wesleyan theology a few years ago.]
MY RESPONSE: There is much that Thielen says in this chapter that I can affirm, but some that he, unfortunately, misses. He speaks, for example, of gradual justification (a concept I don’t see in the Scriptures). And what really troubles me is a complete lack of reference to the essential of repentance in conversion. Instead, he uses expressions like “affirming faith in Jesus” or “accepting God’s pardon.”
He took me by surprise at the end of the chapter by providing an invitation to those who aren’t sure of their salvation to pray a certain prayer. Here’s that prayer: “Dear God, thank you for loving me and offering me salvation. I joyfully accept your forgiveness and grace. The best I know how, I affirm faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and I accept him as my Savior. Thank you for adopting me as your child. Help me faithfully to follow you for the rest of my life. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Perhaps you don’t find that prayer troubling, but what about repentance? What about a sorrow for one’s sins? Now, some in the mainline camp (and even some Evangelicals) argue that repentance is not a requirement for salvation. I would invite any who hold that view to do a study of the following passages: Mt. 3:2; 11:20; 21:32; Lk. 5:32; 13:3&5; 15:7&10; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21 (repentance and faith); Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 7:10; 2 Tim. 2:25; Heb. 6:1; 2 Pe. 3:9.
In his conclusion, Thielen invites readers to join themselves to mainline churches, not warning readers that such churches have often denied the fundamentals of the faith.
I want to thank you, dear blog-reader, for sticking with me in my review of this book. Please feel free to leave a comment or two below.
Friends: I recently had an enjoyable time with the believers at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel in New Jersey. I preached a two-part sermon on salvation. Here is the first sermon:
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
Imagine sitting in a room with Jesus. He is holding your hands and He says, “___ (insert your name here), you have a real problem with SIN! You are a sinner by nature and by practice (I could give examples, if you wish). Your sin separates you from God, from me! Okay. I’ve got to go now. I’m glad we could have this talk.”
You would be devastated! Jesus doesn’t just inform us of our sin — He pays the debt we owed a holy God because of our sin! He fixes the cavity of sin by His self-sacrifice. And that is far more important than, “Lunch?”
In 1981 a Minnesota radio station made an odd announcement about a car which had been stolen in California. The police were staging an intense search for the vehicle and the driver, even placing radio ads to contact the thief. On the front seat of the stolen car sat a box of crackers that had been laced with poison to be used as rat bait. Now the police and the car owner were more interested in apprehending the thief to prevent him from eating the poison than to recover the car. So often, when we run from God, we feel it is to escape His punishment. But what we may actually be doing is eluding His rescue.
I recently preached this sermon at Southbrook Church.
Even though this was a Palm Sunday message, the primary point of the sermon is “Who Is This Jesus to You?”
Comments welcome . . .