The Word for today:
One of the most misleading phrases in our Christian lingo is this one: “I was saved in 1988.” The phrase confines salvation to the past tense and leaves it there.
But salvation is always on the move. It is going places, taking us somewhere. Salvation never stops.
The great sweep of scripture which lies before us illustrates that we are saved from something to something else:
We are saved from Egypt to the Promised Land; from sinfulness to Christ-likeness.
Back there in ’88 we were saved by the blood of Jesus from the penalty of sin, which is death. In Exodus, this is illustrated at Passover: when God sees the blood, the death angel passes over.
At Passover/Cross we passed/crossed from death to life, but we were as powerless as infants. God doesn’t want us to stay babies, so along with the blood he provided power–the power of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Spirit transforms us from spiritual infants to full Christ-likeness. This ongoing salvation is illustrated by Israel’s further deliverance–from Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea.
But the process still has miles to go. Up ahead is the wilderness, with its testing. Then we must cross the Jordan and pass Jericho before we enter the Promised Land. Even in the Promised Land our enemies will continue to assail us. But by the power of the Spirit we make our way all the way into Jerusalem, into the Temple and into the “Holy of Holies”–the very Presence of the Father.
So does salvation end there?
I repeat a borrowed phrase at the end of each of my classes. It’s a way to signal that the class has ended, and a way to say goodbye until next time:
“We love you to pieces, to infinity and beyond!”
Salvation begins at the cross of Jesus, where he himself was broken to pieces. It is forever based there, but it doesn’t stay there. All who are saved by his blood from the death penalty then embark on a saving process, guided and empowered by His Spirit:
And we are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
As this shaping process proceeds, it often looks like anything but salvation! God pulverizes our pride and self-centeredness. He cuts out harmful habits and assumptions that have permeated, over time, to the very marrow of our bones. He’s loving you to pieces, all the way home.
And even when you “get there,” you will find him saving still; he died to save you, now he lives to keep you saved:
You are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5)
For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:10)
There will always be more salvation ahead than behind:
He delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us. (2 Corinthians 1:10)