person-window

Are You Really Saved?

When God came to rescue us through the Incarnation, the cross and the resurrection, he did a great deal more than merely provide a way for us to avoid the consequences of our sin. In other words, it is more than getting a ticket to heaven. He defeated the enemy that held us in bondage, freed us from our sin, transported us from Satan’s domain to the domain of Christ, gave us a new nature and a new identity, filled us and empowered us with his Spirit; thereby making us a participant in his divine nature for all eternity (2 Peter 1:3-4).

But if Satan is defeated, why is the creation still so messed up? Why does the New Testament itself refer to Satan as “the god of this age” and as having “power over the whole world” after the resurrection? And if we’ve been freed from sin and given a new nature, why do we still struggle with sin?

To address these difficult issues, we need to understand the New Testament’s covenantal understanding of marriage. We are the bride and Christ is the bridegroom. This biblical image is shaped by the first century Jewish understanding of how marriage worked at the time. Jewish couples were officially married – “betrothed “ to one another – one or more years before they celebrated their wedding and consummated their marriage. This was a period of time in which they learned and accomplished all they needed to in preparation for their life together.

In a sense, a newly betrothed couple could speak of their marriage in three distinct tenses, past, present and future. They were married the moment they publicly pledged themselves to one another during their betrothal ceremony. Yet, they were also in the process of getting married as they went through their betrothal period. But they wouldn’t be fully married until the groom returned, a wedding was celebrated and the marriage consummated.

In light of his, and given the covenantal nature of salvation, we shouldn’t be surprised to discover that the New Testament speaks about salvation in three tenses.

There’s an important sense in which we were saved the moment we pledged our life to Christ at our betrothal ceremony (baptism) and became part of the collective bride (church) (Eph 2:5). But Scripture also talks about salvation as a present, on-going process (1 Cor 1:18). As the bride of Christ we are learning how live in the Kingdom, revolt against the Powers and recover our original God-given dominion. And the New Testament also speaks about salvation that is something yet in the future (Rom 10:13). We are waiting for our groom to return, at which time we’ll enjoy a wedding feast and experience the complete joy of a direct, unhindered, unbroken relationship with our Lord.

If you’re part of the Bride of Christ, you were saved, are being saved and shall be saved.

It’s important that all three tenses are held together in a balanced way. Disciples of Jesus need to trust that they have been betrothed to Christ and that everything God says he’s saved them from and saved them for is absolutely true. We have been saved.

At the same time, disciples need to be aware that we are a bride-in-training and thus need to continually learn how to live free from the bondage our groom as saved us from and participate in the life of God he has saved us for. We are being saved.

Yet, followers of Jesus must remain aware that our struggles with sin and warfare against the Powers will not be over until our groom returns to establish God’s Kingdom and dwell with us forever. We shall be saved.

Image by h.koppdelaney via Flickr

Related Reading

The “Kingdom Now”: Reflections on Magical American Christianity

One major problem American Christians face is that we tend to embrace a magical view of the Christian faith. We assume that if a person “prays the sinners prayer,” “surrenders their life to Christ,” and “accepts Jesus as Lord of their life,” this somehow magically “saves” them and will sooner or later magically transform them…

Your Spiritual “Say-So”

In yesterday’s post, I summarized what Jesus and the rest of the Bible says about prayer. For many, that is enough. “God said it, I believe it, that settles it for me.” But for others, like myself, the practice of petitionary prayer raises a number of theological questions that need to be answered. The trouble is…

Do People Exist in Parallel Universes, and Do They Need Jesus? (Podcast)

Greg talks the sin economy and if sin actually threatens God. Episode 474 The Interview: http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0474.mp3

Love Conquers All

Paul prayed in this way for the church at Ephesus: I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, [God] may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in…

Responding in Love

The world is full of conflict where evil begets more evil. Violence produces more violence. Arguments produce more arguments. It’s a tit-for-tat world. What is God’s strategy for stopping this conflict? How does God respond to evil, and how does God call us to respond? This strategy might even come in handy during heated conversations…

Living Jesus’ Prayer for Forgiveness

Luke 23:34: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Could anything be more shocking and yet more beautiful than this prayer? After being whipped, beaten, crowned with thorns, repeatedly mocked, spit upon, sneered at, and pierced with spikes through his wrists and ankles, while slowly suffocating as he…