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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Saved to What? Part 1

I've been writing about the Gospel. What is it? What is required? Why is it even necessary? I've covered the problem of human nature -- sin that deserves God's wrath -- and the remedy of repent (turn away from sin and toward Christ) and believe, placing one's confidence in Christ to the point of a changed way of living. I've covered the aim of God in this process, the union of God and His people, a concept beyond human comprehension but of ultimate worth. And I told all of this in reverse, starting with the good news and working my way backward. Well, I now want to jump back to the other side of "saved". We've been sinners, recognized the problem, repented and believed, and are now counted among "the saved", those who are God's people. What is it all for? Why did God even allow for salvation? And what does it entail now?

We like to think that God has saved us because we're just so ... lovable, valuable, worth it, you know? How could He not? It just isn't so. He told Israel, "It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set His love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that He swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt." (Deut 7:7-8) It was not Israel's worth; it was God's love. When Israel was repenting for asking for a king (1 Sam 12:18-19), Samuel explained something critical to them. "For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for Himself." (1 Sam 12:22) It was for Himself, for His name's sake. When He was promising Israel that He would lead them out of their captivity, He said, "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD when through you I vindicate My holiness before their eyes." (Ezek 36:22-23) Salvation, then, is for our benefit, indeed, but it is primarily for His name's sake, for His glory, for His vindication. By "name", the language is referring to His entire character, and by "glory" it refers to the magnificence of His entire character. Thus, the ultimate reason behind God's salvation is the fullest revelation of His character. Paul says we are "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." (Titus 2:13-14) We benefit, but it is ultimately for Him.

There are, for us, many benefits in salvation. The first, of course, is this new relationship with God. And that new relationship is predicated on His forgiveness, another excellent benefit. But the answer to the question of why God allowed for salvation at all, of the primary purpose of salvation, is that it is primarily for God's benefit to demonstrate His glory.

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