Life happens. I’ve thought of nothing else but moving and parents visiting since Thursday till Monday and I’m still winding down. I apologize for the late post; moving on.
Saying (only) that Christ ‘died for my sins’ is true but not complete. Additionally, it also allows for this idea of a thinking Salvation as ‘free gift’ but then ‘you have to do stuff now [so not really a free gift or “cheap grace” unnecessary guilt trip] ‘ when you ‘get really serious…and mean it’. This sort of belly-button gazing is not only really unhelpful, it’s just not orthodox: its current wide-spread form is from the Second Great Awakening. The ‘Sinner’s prayer’, even prayed in earnestness, has no intrinsic talisman-ic power to grant salvation.
So how are we saved?
Simply, put, we’re saved because we’re in Christ. The story of the 2 lost sons is really talking about inheritance and both wanting God’s things but not God. By way of telling us about a bad elder brother, Jesus is pointing to himself, a good elder brother, who is coming to bring back the lost younger brother who squandered his inheritance and brings the younger son back at the cost of his own inheritance. If it helps, we’re ‘subleasing under Christ’s inheritance’. Being saved is really more than about being saved from Hell, it’s about freed from the slavery of sin to be made fully human, made in the image of God for his purposes, to do what we were meant to be (which is what freedom is). Being saved isn’t about being given a million dollar check to cancel our debt, it’s about being brought not just to zero balance from debt but into positive balance, into life, bring brought to eat at our Lord’s table, having a future, having an inheritance. In more formal theology terms, we’re saved because we’re sons of God, adoption, because we’re true sons of Abraham, true inheritors of the covenant given to him, being grafted into the nation of Israel. We’re saved because we’ve been chosen to be YHWH’s people, hence the blog name. (I hereby in this manner publicly announce leaving my previous position by ignorance of Dispensationalism.)
It’s really better to talk about Christ dying to himself and then being raised again. And if we are Christ’s we too must die to ourselves in order for us to be raised again. The Bible seems to be saying that, though this seems to be strange, this is the actual deeper underlying reality of the only way to live. This is the meaning of ‘whoever loses his life shall find it and whoever seeks to save his life will lose it.’ Christ had to have risen again for us to have new life now and to hope for the fulfillment of that to come. What I advocate for is for both a remembrance of Christ’s death and his glorious resurrection. This must be reflected in the hymns that we choose to sing in services, in our language and in our thinking. Like many other things in Christian thought, this is something of an antimony: our depravity and God’s justice, God’s justice and his supremacy, works and faith: the gospel requires that we hold many things to be both true at the same time and neither as a subset of the other. (This kind of unique complex-simple structure is for me an indication of truth but that for another time, I’ll leave the terms opaque and undefined for now.)
I will speak later how all of this is actually already encoded into the Apostle’s creed soon. Until next time, blessings from the Lord our God.
Edit: L. shared this with me and having read it, I pass it onto you: it’s about a similar topic that mentions this and balances this discussion well.