What really is salvation?


by Glen Doss, Major –

“The tremendous revelation of Christianity is not the Fatherhood of God, but the babyhood of God—God became the weakest thing in his own creation, and in flesh and blood he levered it back to where it was intended to be…Just as the Lord came into human history from the outside, so he must come into us from the outside. Have we allowed our personal human lives to become a Bethlehem for the Son of God?”

These stirring words of Oswald Chambers are pertinent ones to ask not just at Christmas time but every day of the year. But do we really understand what it means to be “born again,” to be “saved”—or as Chambers puts it—to become “a Bethlehem for the Son of God”?

Joseph was directed in a dream to name the divine child Jesus, “because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). What is the significance of this divine revelation? What really is salvation?

Is it not to have a Savior to whom any of us might go, at any time, without the need to take a journey or acquire letters of recommendation or credentials? Surely each of us needs a point of refuge. It is rest we want—such peace of mind as many of us had when we were small children. We shouldn’t waste time in asking HOW God can give it. That is for him to understand. Not us—until it is done. We simply ask him to forgive us and make us clean and set us right.

The first step we take is one of obedience—we follow God’s direction. As Goethe put it: “Do the thing that lies next to you.” It’s really all about obedience—nothing more. No matter how much we may talk around the subject.

When God sent his own Son into the world to appear among us clothed in humanity to take all the consequences of being the Son of obedience (Hebrews 5:8), it was to enable us to live the obedient life. He engulfed our wrongs in his infinite forgiveness and then began a journey of winning us back by slow, uncompromising, tedious renewal, to the heart of the Father through obedience.

Surely God would not have created us knowing some of us would commit such horrible sins that he could not redeem us. For it is our sin—our willful disobedience of God’s directions—that separates us from him who is our point of refuge. In God’s eyes all sin is equally abhorrent: murder, plagiarizing, unethical business practices, or unforgiveness. All sin, whatever the degree, equally separates us from God’s heart of love. Therefore, it all needs to be repented of and forgiven by him whose heart is forgiveness.

He did not come to deliver us from the consequences of our sins—that is accomplished, of course—but he came to save us FROM our sins. He came to do more than simply take the punishment for our sins. He came as well to set us free from sin itself (Matthew 1:21; 1 John 3:5). No man is safe from hell until he is free from his sin. No one will ever be redeemed from hell until he is saved from the evil in him—and begins to live the obedient life.

This sin that dwells and works in us is the sin from which Jesus came to deliver us. When we turn against it and refuse to obey it, it rises in fierce insistence, but at the same moment begins to die. An act of fee will from you and me—a gut-level admission of our inability in and of ourselves to be obedient and an act of trust in him to enable us to do so—unleashes the mighty power of God in our lives.

As Paul expressed it so succinctly: “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV). This is repentance. We are then on the Lord’s side as he has always been on ours, and he begins to deliver us from the evil and the sinful deeds that result. Jesus our Savior, came to make us good, and therefore blessed, children. He is our salvation.

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