Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What Those Who Trust In Christ Are Saved To, From And For - Romans 5:1-11

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Romans 5:10 "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."

Years ago I heard a fellow-pastor friend of mine share a story of how he had worked on an oil derrick in the Gulf of Mexico as a 19 year old young man. As he was walking on the main platform, he ventured too close to the edge and fell into the water. Immediately the men up above began to cry "man over-board". As my friend drifted further from the oil derrick, he saw a helicopter lift from the platform to begin its search for him. Other than the distant lights, he could not see his hand in front of his face. He was drifting in the Gulf of Mexico, and began wondering whether he would be eaten by sharks or suffer hypothermia.  I recall my friend at that particular point in the story saying: "It was at that point that I understood what it meant to be lost." He then testified of how the helicopter spotted him, and how a life-raft sped toward him and pulled him out of the dark, cold, ink-black darkness and chilly water. In his message, he noted how although he had been lost, he was saved. He then drew the powerful parallel between his experience to the Biblical imagery of being "lost" and then "saved". 

So, what does this term “saved” mean Biblically? As early in the Old Testament we read in Exodus 14:30 "Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore." New Testament passages such as Romans 10:9-10 describe one's confession of faith in Christ as resulting in the state of being "saved". Ephesians 2:8-9 similarly notes: "for by grace re you "saved" through faith...". The Gospel declares upon one’s trust in Jesus Christ, they are “saved” unto something, “saved” from something and “saved” for something. Today's post will aim to unpack what the Gospel promises to save you to, from and for. Upon our reception of the Gospel by faith, we are

1. Saved to…. Romans 5:1-5

a. 5:1 peace with God  
b. 5:2 access to God  
c. 5:3-5 hope in God  
d. 5:5 love from God

Ephesians 2:14 describes Jesus Christ as "our peace" who has torn down the barriers between us and God. In Hebrews 4:14-16, we're reminded of the access we have to the Lord Jesus Christ, the believer's eternal high priest, for finding grace and help in time of need. Concerning the believer's hope in God, we find how such hope describes their status before God in Ephesians 2:12 and Colossians 1:27. Then, passages such as 1 John 4:8-16 unfold the glorious love of God. All of these spiritual graces are entered upon from one's position granted in justification by faith. Paul's point is that since we are justified by faith, we begin in our sanctification, with the attendant blessings such as peace, access to God, hope and love ours to enjoy. Henceforth this is what the Christian is saved to. But now notice what it is that Jesus can "save from" for anyone trusting in Him. 

2. Saved from….Romans 5:6-10

The Bible Knowledge Commentary notes concerning Romans 5:6-8 - 

"Since the divine dilemma of justification (3:26) has been solved on the basis of Jesus’ shed blood (cf. 3:25), certainly Jesus Christ will see that justified sinners will be saved from God’s wrath. Believers will never be condemned to hell (John 5:24; Rom. 8:1) nor will they be the objects of God’s coming Tribulation wrath (1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9)."

Concerning what we're saved from in salvation, we can note three things: 

a. 5:6-8 our sins against God
b. 5:9 wrath from God
c. 5:10 our war with God

The first has to do with God's twin act of removing the penalty of our sin in what theologians call "expiation" (see Hebrews 9:14). The second thing we are saved from, God's wrath, follows on the heels of expiation by the satisfaction of of His wrath in what is called "propitiation" (see 1 John 2:1-2). Then finally, we find that in the end of warfare or enmity between us and God, we are described as those being reconciled to Him (see 2 Corinthians 5:15-21). The great commentator Matthew Henry notes concerning what believers are "saved from"...

"The dying Jesus laid the foundation, in satisfying for sin, and slaying the enmity, and so making us salvable; thus is the partition-wall broken down, atonement made, and the attainder reversed; but it is the living Jesus that perfects the work: he lives to make intercession, Heb. 7:25. It is Christ, in his exaltation, that by his word and Spirit effectually calls, and changes, and reconciles us to God, is our Advocate with the Father, and so completes and consummates our salvation."

So due to being justified by faith, the believer in Jesus Christ is "saved to" peace with God, access to God, hope in God and love from God. Likewise, the believer in Christ is "saved from" their sins, wrath and war with God. But now, what is it that the sinner saved by grace is saved for?

3. Saved for… Romans 5:11

In Romans 5:11, we can note two general realities to which the Christian is saved for: walking in fellowship with God and worship of God. In the Exodus account, we find God telling Moses to go to Pharaoh and state to him to "let my people go". We read for example in Exodus 4:21-23 "The Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”

Now when you read the remainder of the Exodus account, including the Red Sea crossing and all of the events surrounding God's deliverance of the Hebrews from the Egyptians, you discover that the goal was not just to "save the people from Pharaoh". The goal was to make these slaves into worshipers and these people who "were formerly not a people in a people for God". Exodus 19-20 is the official birth of the Jewish nation. God made them a people, a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy nation. They were saved for the purpose of walking with God and worshiping Him. 

In the New Testament, we find that Christian salvation is described in these same terms. The Christian is saved for good works (Ephesians 2:10). 1 Peter 2:9-11 quotes from Exodus 19:5-6, the same exact identity in terms of Christians. As theologian R.C. Sproul has often said in conferences and in writing: "We are saved by God, from God, for God."

Closing thoughts:

Today we explored the Biblical concept of what it means to be "saved". We noted the following....

1. Saved to…. Romans 5:1-5
.peace with God  
.access to God  
.hope in God  
.love from God

2. Saved from… Romans 5:6-10
.our sins against God
.wrath from God
.our war with God

3. Saved for… Romans 5:11
.walking in fellowship with God
.worshipping God

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