Wednesday, January 16, 2008

notes on salvation 1

...or, 'They just need to get saved and then they would be alright.'

Well I’m back from the States and it’s been a while since I’ve written. As usual, it’s not that I don’t have anything to write about, just never quite sure where to start these days. One thing I will mention is that we’re beginning a new chapter in our local youth ministry and I’m very excited about it. After a couple of years of building bridges in the community, we actually begin our first “cell group” for teenagers next week. I feel confident that, out of the fifty to sixty teenagers that we have contact with, not one of them is a Christian. Many of them are Muslim, and a few are Buddhists. So it will be a very exciting new journey as we try to find a bridge building way to share the gospel.

With that in mind, I recently wrote an essay on salvation. The topic I was given was ‘They just need to get saved and then they would be alright. Discuss.’ In the essay I actually discussed the ideas of Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley (I’ve decided that I’m a huge fan…more on that later) and Karl Barth, and then my own ideas which I based, I believe, on scripture. I thought I’d post that last section (I’ll actually post it in several sections over the next few days) as a way of getting the blog ball rolling for this new year. I’d be very interested to hear other’s thoughts. Is my theology off base? Agree/Disagree? Is John Calvin really the ogre I think he is (Shaun)?

Who is Jesus? Most evangelicals would respond by saying that Jesus is “savior and Lord”. A few, if given time, might add that He is also “an example” of how we should live. Yet, when reading about his example and describing it in sermon, far too many seem to skip over his ministry as an example of how we should live.

In Luke 4:18-19 Jesus sets the foundation for the next three years of his ministry when he gets up and reads from Isaiah.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he
went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The
scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place
where it is written:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he
has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to
proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to
release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the
attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on
him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your

John Wesley suggested that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, as summed up by Matthew, provides the clearest guide as to what William J. Abram calls “the moral center of gravity of the Christian faith”. In this sermon (Matthew 5:1-48) Jesus exhorts us to let our light shine before men that they might see our “good deeds” and praise our God in heaven. How do we let our light shine? By doing good deeds. Jesus further exhorts us to forgive our enemies and that hate is the same as murder. He further encourages us that those who realize their need for God, who mourn, who are humble, who hunger and thirst for justice, who are merciful, whose hearts are pure, who are peacemakers, and/or those who are persecuted for trying to live out any of the above merits, will be blessed.

With all of this in mind, Jesus seemed to be clearly concerned with not only a spiritual healing and salvation, but also a physical one. How else can you explain all the time he spent healing and raising people from physical death? One could argue that Jesus did it simply to gain the attention, trust, or even faith of those being healed or witnessing those miracles, but one must also acknowledge that, at the very least, Jesus acknowledged mankind’s desire for physical healing and affirmed that need and desire by, in fact, physically healing them.

(to be continued)

(Incidentally, this is not a Salvation Army blog and the thoughts and ideas expressed here are, in no way, meant to represent the thoughts and ideas of The Salvation Army. It is an independent blog written and maintained by a Christian who just happens to be a member of The Salvation Army church.)

Comments on "notes on salvation 1"


Blogger shaunespencer said ... (2:08 PM) : 

One interesting idea to consider is what does "spiritual" even mean? We often load that up with a lot of Neo-Platonic, western ideas. It seems to me that in the Biblical world-view (i.e. Ancient Near East and not Greek), there is not the same dichotomy between physical and spiritual. For example, I Corinthians 15 refers to Jesus' resurrection as being "spiritual". The Gospels demonstrate that his resurrection body was also quite physical. The reason why all that matters is that it undermines the notion that Christianity is only concerned with "salvation" (please read the word "salvation" while making obnoxious quote signs in the air with your will help make the point) in some other-worldly, sweet by and by kind of a way.


Blogger jsi said ... (2:35 PM) : 

I am praying for your continuing relationships and your newest cell group with these growing hearts who are speaking outloud of spiritual matters.
You are very right about this aspect of salvation - Salvation, within the direct ministry of Jesus, was physical and spiritual. "The Kingdom of God" in the eternal future and "The Kingdom of God" in the present tense.
Jesus brought the divine touch of God's presence, bringing salvation and requiring the definition of love to be aligned with forgiveness.
We are the arms of Christ when we call ourselves Christian believers - and that must include at its most basic fundemental basis someone who helps loose the bonds of oppression, who helps lift the burden of poverty, who extends strength in mercy and forgiveness.

Shining the light of God in darkness - you have an exceptional post today! It is good to read your words again following your hiatus.


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