The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Salvation of God's People; Accomplished or Not?

'Salvation is of the Jews'!

Yes, you may rightly accuse me of taking this striking phrase out of context, but you may remember that Jesus also told another Gentile woman, when she pleaded for help, 'It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw [ it ] to the little dogs' ( Matthew 15:26 ). Jesus seemed to continually ( and painstakingly ) point out that He was sent to save HIS people from their sins ( Matthew 1:21 ); like He said, 'I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel', seemingly in disagreement with several Old Testament passages, Isaiah 49:1-6 in particular ( NOT that they are contradictory )!

Whether or not people are still 'saved' today, whether or not 'salvation' is still in effect or not, is a serious question and consequence of a fulfilled eschatology! If the Salvation that God sent for His people was accomplished ( 'It is finished' ) at the cross ( through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus ), and even physically for the Church at AD70, with the destruction of the Temple, fulfilling Daniel 12:7 ( 'when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered' ), then can we truly seek ( and expect ) a biblical salvation of the same sort that God promised His people under the old, or 'first' [ covenant ]? Can we really say that when one realizes his condition ( rebellion against his Creator ) and turns from his rebellious ways to serve His God, and his neighbor, he has been 'saved'?

Well, yes, and no!

In this world in which we live today, one might easily say, and most Christians do, that we are still under these 'powers of darkness', under ( the law ) of sin and death, so to speak, but the glorious truth is that we are not; we never have been! The Scriptures ( Hebrews 2:14 ) tell us that, 'Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil'. Logic would tell us that, as 'he' who had the power of death was destroyed, else Jesus failed in His purpose ( which He did NOT! ) that 'death' was also destroyed. In fact, Jesus revealed ( Revelation 20:14 ) that 'Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire'. This is where we get into the 'already, not yet' scenario that many Christians 'see' in the prophetic Scriptures.

In a certain sense, there IS a 'salvation' to be sought today, and although related, it is NOT the same (sort of ) salvation that Jesus brought to 'the Israel of God' in the first century ( or IS it?! ). The salvation that many seek today, and wrongly, we might add, is salvation from ourselves, salvation from the institutions and situations that seem to embroil us! Once delivered from those chains, whether real or imagined, one might correctly exult that they have been 'saved', but there again; this is NOT the biblical salvation that we read about in the pages of our Bibles ( or IS it?! )!

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us........was not Yes and No,    but in Him was Yes!
I Corinthians 1:19 

Paul wrote the words above, in a different context, maybe, but I believe they are useful in pointing out that the salvation of God's people is NOT a 'yes and no', or an 'already, but not yet' matter! Either all of God's people received their salvation at the cross ( 'It is finished' ) for all of eternity, or they did not! Either this salvation has been accomplished ( already ), or it has not! Do some of those who were saved, along with the rest of God's people, have yet to realize that salvation? Surely ( I don't mean to call you 'Shirley' ); in that sense, 'they' have yet to receive ( personally ) the Salvation that God has given to His people, but that in no way means that the redemption and salvation of His people is 'already but not yet'!

That radical individualism again!

Part of our modern-day misunderstanding of 'salvation', besides a lack of truly covenantal understanding, is the notion that Jesus died for individuals. Yes; we HAVE been here before, but this pesky little bugger crops up so often and messes with so many doctrines, that it HAS to be dealt with: it's like a weed that won't go away! Surely ( now I AM calling you 'Shirley' ),  Jesus died for me, for you, for the Australian ( down undah ), for the Indian ( on the other side of the globe ), etc, etc, but Scripturally speaking; Jesus did NOT die for individual sinners, He died for the sins of His people Israel ( which 'Israel' you are, if you are His )!

Salvation was ( yes, I said 'was' ) a corporate affair, not an individual matter: individuals, as they joined the Body, were in that sense, 'saved' ( the Philippian jailer for instance, but even then, it was not just him as an individual; his entire family was 'saved' ), and you could find quite a few examples in the New Testament Scriptures of individuals that were 'saved', but most if not all of these examples were representative of the Spread of the Gospel to that person's kith and kin, and were therefore speaking more of a corporate than an individual salvation.

Paul's letters, which comprised the larger body of New Testament writing, spoke most often of the salvation of Israel as a whole, and in fact, he wrote, 'I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh' ( Romans 9:3 ). The Old Testament Scriptures  speak more heavily of the coming salvation and redemption of Israel as One Body!

There is much focus among Christians today, an emphasis really, on the fact that we as individuals must grasp the salvation that Christ wrought for His people almost 2,000 years ago, and while it is true that we must realize that we are/have been in rebellion against our Heavenly Father, this radical focus on the individual's response to that salvation has led to much error, including both the errors of Calvinism and the errors of Arminianism. Both sets of errors are based on the false notion of individual salvation, which in turn, is based on a false eschatology which denies, if consistent, that the salvation which Christ accomplished is complete.

This scares the hell out of many ( most ) Christians today, and actually, this may be what scares many away from unorthodox preterism: if Christ indeed returned when and how He promised, then according to the Old Testament pattern ( Leviticus 16:24 ), our salvation, the salvation of God's people is indeed complete, and all that is left for us to do is to share the knowledge and realization of that accomplished redemption//salvation throughout our known world. Many Christians cannot face that; it is hard to face the responsibility, as Adam found, to simply have dominion and rest in the fact that it has been given to us, that through Christ, we have been given the strength, and that we must, through the strength entrusted to us, make the world a better place!

The sad, yet glorious fact is; many non-Christians, or those whom we would normally look at as non-Christian, have been doing a better job than many Christians at making our world a better place, especially in recent history!

May we who name the name of Christ, who claim to be the people of God, begin to exercise the dominion that He restored to us through His great redemption and salvation, and join, in actuality, those who have done so before us, welcoming us into the realization of our inheritance of the great salvation that He wrought ( past tense ) for His people!

Secure in our salvation,
Charles Haddon Shank

No comments: