After reading a post quit a long time ago by Michael Patton on his blog (and excellent resource I might add) some time ago and also considering one of the articles in the Canons of Dordt, I continue to think about the believer’s perspective on what we are saved from and by.
What struck me is that we often communicate an entirely wrong set of ideas concerning the forgiveness of sin, both to others believers and even ourselves, and that the result of faulty communication may be to limit assurance and growth. As always, of course, this is from a Reformed perspective, since I can take no other…
In brief, Michael makes the point that we are not condemned primarily by our ongoing sin, but by the sinners that we are as Adam’s seed. Unfortunately, as he points out, we too oft communicate the condemnation of ongoing sin and not the more significant hereditary reason, for our fallen state. This has many nasty consequences. He is so right!
How many times have you heard it said to the unsaved or other believers that they must be saved from ‘their’ sins – past, present and future? It is presented as if those personal sins are what is holding them, and then once saved, as if ongoing sins is a possibly danger to salvation. We may even slip subtly into this thought pattern ourselves.
The result of this scenario is that, whether subtly or overtly, the mind of flesh could be encourage to think that the natural self actually had some input to whether they will be among, or are among, the saints. Since the worldly mind is already bent in this direction, a performance based or maintained salvation is a natural next step. This is true even if it is not presented that way, but how much more so if it is.
When we are regenerated by the spirit, and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, what primarily are we saved from? Since the decision about election was made in eternity past, “before the foundations of the world” (Eph 1:6), though we are certainly released from our sins of this life, salvation is not based primarily about them. It is about our nature as Adam’s seed. Thus we are saved from our natural selves, as we were born into the world of flesh carrying that as the principle charge.
Our salvation, then, is from our nature most of all. We are firstly saved from the wrath that was due Adam. The release from any sin that may or may not have been added to our account in this world is significant but peripheral.
You are splitting hairs, you say. Sin is sin. I would not agree.
We are primarily saved from ourselves, who we fundamentally are, as recipients of Adam’s fall. The fact that once we are born into the world we continue to actualize this pattern is merely a result, ugly though it may be. It is interest added to the principle.
Further, once we are saved from our natural selves and made into the new man (that includes you too ladies, by the way) we are saved from the present and future of our old fallen selves which carried the stain of Adam. That is a lot bigger than any sin or sins we could have committed in the present or future in this world.
All interesting you might say, but so what?
Well, it is a very big so what:
First, the grace and mercy that have been freely bestowed up us in the Beloved is far greater that we would appreciate otherwise;
Second, the God who bestowed them is revealed more in His overwhelming glory by the real extent of the forgiveness now seen;
Third, we are brought more to our true place before the infinitely holy God when we see that out imputed sin (not just our puny recent sin) has been pardoned – that true place being on our knees or on our face;
Fourth, our redemption through grace alone is even clearer. We have been redeemed from the stain that was beyond our comprehension. As such, we could not even appreciate the extent of it, let alone dream that we could atone for it by anything of ourselves.
Fifth, since given our situation just described, and having been redeemed from a stain of unimaginable proportions, our foundational dependence upon Father, Son and Spirit is undeniable. Absolute dependence equates to true faith in the one and only source. This clarifies grace through faith for us.
So, as we rejoice in our salvation in the Beloved, let us rejoice in the clear vision of how and from what we have been saved, on our knees before our infinitly Righteous and Holy God.
We have been saved from our nature, inbred and beyond our control. All is forgiven in Him, now and forever. Just as we could not see the totality of our inherited nature, let alone change it ourselves, we have been saved by His mercy and grace alone.
Let us rejoice in and communicate that…