Human salvation demands the divine disclosure of truths surpassing reason.
These are fountains of salvation that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take out from these.
Augustine of Hippo
The Jews looked upon a serpent to be freed from serpents; and we look upon the death of Christ to be delivered from death.
In His free grace, God is for man in every respect; He surrounds man from all sides. He is man’s Lord who is before him, above him, after him, and thence also with him in history, the locus of man’s existence. Despite man’s insignificance, God is with him as his Creator who intended and made mankind to be very good. Despite man’s sin, God is with him, the One who was in Jesus Christ reconciling the world, drawing man unto Himself in merciful judgment. Man’s evil past is not merely crossed out because of its irrelevancy. Rather, it is in the good care of God. Despite man’s life in the flesh, corrupt and ephemeral, God is with him. The victor in Christ is here and now present through His Spirit, man’s strength, companion, and comfort. Despite man’s death God is with him, meeting him as redeemer and perfecter at the threshold of the future to show him the totality of existence in the true light in which the eyes of God beheld it from the beginning and will behold it evermore. In what He is for man and does for man, God ushers in the history leading to the ultimate salvation of man.
Barbara Brown Taylor
The problem is, many of the people in need of saving are in churches, and at least part of what they need saving from is the idea that God sees the world the same way they do.
Since no man is excluded from calling upon God the gate of salvation is open to all. There is nothing else to hinder us from entering, but our own unbelief.
The hole in our holiness is that we don’t really care much about it. Passionate exhortation to pursue gospel-driven holiness is barely heard in most of our churches. It’s not that we don’t talk about sin or encourage decent behavior. Too many sermons are basically self-help seminars on becoming a better you.
At the heart of the Protestant faith is the conviction that there is nothing we contribute to our salvation but our sin, no merit we bring but Christ’s, and nothing necessary for justification except faith alone.
It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.
People today hunger not for personal salvation, let alone for the restoration of an earlier golden age, but for the feeling, the momentary illusion, of personal well-being, health, and psychic security.
A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world-and might be even more difficult to save.
J. Richard Middleton
To focus our expectation in an otherworldly salvation has the potential to dissipate our resistance to societal evil and the dedication needed to work for the redemptive transformation of this world.
This also is a part of the teaching of the Church, that there are certain angels of God, and certain good influences, which are His servants in accomplishing the salvation of men.
We can’t save ourselves by pulling on our bootstraps, even when the bootstraps are made of the finest religious leather.
Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 3.
It is a fact that the Lord Jesus has already died for you. It is also a fact that you have already died with the Lord Jesus. If you do not believe in your death with Christ, you will not be able to receive the effectiveness of death with Him – freedom from sin.
From its very beginning the Bible sees human life in terms of relationships…The Bible does not speak about “humanity” but about “all the families of the earth” or “all the nations.” It follows that this mutual relatedness, this dependence of one on another, is not merely part of the journey toward the goal of salvation, but is intrinsic to the goal itself. For knowing God, for being in communion with him, we are dependent on the one whom he gives us to be the bearer of this relation, not just as a teacher and guide on the way but as the partner in the end. There is, there can be, no private salvation, no salvation which does not involve us with one another.
This is salvation in the deeper and more spiritual sense of the Old Testament. . . . But even in the religion of the Law, . . . obedience to the revealed will of Yahweh is recognized as the supreme end of man and the supreme glory of God. The attitude of Jesus to the will of God and his emphasis on the absolute worth of obedience as the supreme ‘value’ of human life are the best illustrations of what the Old Testament indicates as the purposes of Yahweh in creation and providence.
[Biblical] salvation lies not in an escape from this world but in the transformation of this world…. You will not find hope for the world in any of the religious systems or philosophies of humankind…. The Biblical vision is unique. That is why when some say there is salvation in other faiths too, I ask them—“What salvation are you talking about?” No faith holds out a promise of eternal salvation for the world—the ordinary world—that the cross and resurrection of Jesus do.
Lewis B. Smedes
God does not give us salvation because we believe. Our believing is only the normal way of receiving the salvation he freely gives.
It is not thy hold on Christ that saves thee; it is Christ. It is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee; it is Christ. It is not even thy faith in Christ, though that be the instrument; it is Christ’s blood and merit.
Quoted in Spurgeon on the Blood of Christ
Hans Urs von Balthasar
The first attempt at a response: there must have been a fall, a decline, and the road to salvation can only be the return of the sensible finite into the intelligible infinite.
God just doesn’t throw a life preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, and pulls a corpse from the bottom of the sea, takes him up on the bank, breathes into him the breath of life and makes him alive.
John R. W. Stott
[cf. Mk 8:34-35] Jesus’ words about “saving” and “losing” our “life,” although they can certainly be applied to martyrdom, are not necessarily restricted to it. For our “life” is our psyche, our self, and in other versions of this saying the reflexive is used, namely, “yourself.”
So we could paraphrase verse 35: “Whoever is determined to hold on to themselves and live for themselves, will lose themselves. But whoever is willing to die, to lose themselves, to give themselves away in the service of Christ and the gospel, will (in the moment of complete abandon) find themselves, and discover their true identity.” So Jesus does promise true self-discovery, at the cost of self-denial, true life at the cost of death.
Taken from The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling by John R. W. Stott Copyright (c) 2010 by John R. W. Stott. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com
To get a man soundly saved it is not enough to put on him a pair of new breeches, to give him regular work, or even to give him a University education. These things are all outside a man, and if the inside remains unchanged you have wasted your labor. You must in some way or other graft upon the man’s nature a new nature, which has in it the element of the Divine.
A book can teach you, a conversation can assure you, a poem can seduce you, a genius can inspire you, but only you can save yourself.
Epistle To Diognetus
God saves by persuasion, not compulsion, for compulsion is no attribute of God.
The generosity and the magnanimity of God are so great that he accepts nothing from us without rewarding it beyond all computation. . . The vast disproportion existing between our work and God’s reward of it already displays his boundless grace, to say nothing of the gift of salvation which is made before we have even begun to do any work.
The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel, Augsburg, 1943, p.758.
Though conversion may be pinpointed to a moment, salvation is a process that continues over a lifetime. I am still being saved from old ways of thinking and behaving and am coming to new understandings, to new life.
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