“Salvation is from our side a choice; from the Divine side it is a seizing upon, an apprehending, a conquest by the Most High God. Our accepting and willingness are reactions rather than actions.” – A.W. Tozer
“Then Jesus told him, ‘I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.’ Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, ‘Are you saying we’re blind?’ ‘If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,’ Jesus replied. ‘But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.” – John 9: 39-41 NLT
“On the day of judgment many will call me their Lord. They will say, ‘We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles.’ But I will tell them, ‘I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!” – Matthew 7:22-23 CEV
“But now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ]. For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.” – Philippians 2: 12-13 Amplified Bible
“Our mess is the canvas on which God paints His story of redemption.” – Louie Giglio
The past few weeks, we’ve talked about the fine lines found within Christianity and how we might walk them in a balanced, steady way as we journey through this life.
The walk of faith is comprised of using and humbly professing what has been given to us by the Author and Finisher of it – surrendering what little we have to a great God who has promised to help us grow and firmly establish it.
In the same way, we walk the fine line of choice by understanding the limitations of our free will within the context of a sovereign God who intervenes – doing our part by aligning them with His principles and surrendering the outcomes to His ultimate purposes for us.
This week, as we explore the fine lines of redemption, I’m drawn to a consistent theme found in each of these tight-rope walks: the role of humility and surrender.
When we understand that developing stellar faith and making impeccable choices are well outside our wheelhouse as humans, we can surrender both to a loving, gracious God who promises to never forsake us.
The same holds true of our redemption, but too often we place the sole burden of it on ourselves – falsely believing we play a vital role in our own salvation. This kind of hubris can be dangerous – seeing ourselves and our own set of actions at the center of what saves us.
The Pharisees (religious leaders) in the Bible verse I listed above are great examples of this. They believed their education, status, and good deeds separated them from everyone else – giving them special favor with God. Jesus referred to them as “blind” – unable to humbly see the truth of who they were separate from the Savior.
Today, we can get caught up in the same misconceptions – believing our good deeds are at the heart of our redemption. Religion, like the Pharisees, has a way of perpetuating this humanistic lie.
Many are falsely led to believe that the “brand” of their Christianity is what saves them – a brand that is more enlightened and has a special favor with God. They see Lutheranism, Catholicism, or Mormonism as more important than the CHIRST in Christianity. They see their personal decision to join the “right” group at the very heart of their redemption.
This prideful arrogance places them in danger of missing the real essence of salvation – a God who “loved the world” (John 3:16) and sent His only Son to save it. We fail to walk the fine line of redemption when we place higher value on belonging to a special group and their enlightened doctrinal interpretation over the simplicity and grace of the Gospel itself.
Religion also tends to use pressure and manipulation to force its membership into a legalistic view of salvation. Measured tithing and church attendance are used to determine the value of a member – again, placing emphasis on how we are “earning” our personal redemption or if we are worthy of it in the first place.
Once again, egotism and hubris are at the center of such things! The Bible tells us that the VERY BEST of our actions are nothing but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:4) and that we are far from saved by our works and deeds alone (Ephesians 2: 8-9), but ONLY by the grace of God through Christ. NO ONE has the right to boast about redeeming themselves through religious, good works.
But what about our personal role in redemption? Don’t we have a part to play in it?
I love the A.W. Tozer quote above – pointing out a relentless, determined God when it comes to saving us! Our part isn’t found in our actions, but in our REACTION to our redemption – willingly, with humility and surrender, accepting it 😊 It’s inviting Him into the messiness of our lives and allowing His redemption to change us forever.
Our part is “working out” the salvation that has already been earned for us with “awe-inspiring fear and trembling” as mentioned in the Amplified version of the Philippians scripture above. We do this through serious and critical self-reflection – eliminating anything in our lives that would be offensive to God. We discredit and cheapen the finality and totality of the Crucifixion when we believe our own actions are at the center of our redemption.
We honor God when we see the value of what He alone has done for us and change our lives accordingly – knowing it is Him who does a good work IN US by His strength and His good pleasure – effectively fulfilling His purposes for us!
That my friend, is our part in walking the fine line of our redemption. A very, very small part indeed 😊
His grace gives each of our lives an eternal purpose and an everlasting meaning. His redemption makes that possible. Praise God for who He is and all He has done for His creation!