5/05/2010

Is salvation only for past sins & future heaven? What about the present?

Blog post: Our tendency is to articulate justification by faith alone morally, for the past (conversion) & future (entrance into heaven), without applying it (justification/salvation) emotionally & psychologically, for the present. We embrace Christ for forgiveness of sins but move on to other ideas & strategies when it comes to our emotional life & the daily pressures that do not lie directly in the “moral” realm. This is a great mistake & a recipe for worried, half-hearted Christians, dabbling their toes in an ocean of grace, thinking they’ve hit bottom.

When sinners are justified (saved), however, 2 liberations wash into their life. The 1st & more obvious liberation is moral. The 2nd liberation is emotional & psychological, which is more subjective & more slippery. Rescued sinners bring to their new life in Christ a host of latent emotional lifelines onto which their affections have latched—relationships, skills, bank accounts, sexual stimulation, a reputation, a salary, a sense of humor, an education, affection from children, affection from parents. These have provided psychological stability. Often one lifeline in particular is the lifeline of all lifelines (the ultimate). As long as we have this, we know we’re okay. “If all of life unravels around you, at least you’ll still have _________.”

We must continue to clarify in our churches and books and preaching and conferences and blogs how alarmingly easy it is, operationally, to swallow the first liberation without the second. We embrace God’s free forgiveness of sins yet go on funneling our affections and emotions into our old felt securities—what the Bible calls idols. We rest assured of our ultimate destiny; but the internal restlessness & insecurity continues in the meantime.

This miserable half-liberation manifests itself in any number of ways—students finding their emotional security in academic performance; businessmen finding psychological stability through profits; pastors assuring themselves of the legitimacy of their ministry through congregational favor; mothers undergirding their sense of worth with obedient children; church planters silently validating themselves through growing attendance.

The knife that severs these functional lifelines onto which the heart is latched is the gospel, returned to daily, tenaciously. For Jesus is the one person who ever lived who was, from the womb, “okay.” “Justified.” And on Calvary he allowed himself to be made un-okay, to be condemned, so that you and I can walk into every class, every business deal, every pulpit, every parenting endeavor, every church plant, every anxiety-generating real-life situation, already justified. Not only morally, but emotionally. Not only for the past and the future, but for the present.

Slightly adapted & abridged from Dane Ortland, PhD candidate, Wheaton College: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2010/05/05/justification%e2%80%99s-double-liberation/

For Jesus' fame,
Ben (312) 363-8578

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