Faith Meets World

Reflections on faith in a messed-up but beautiful world

Category: Salvation (Page 2 of 2)

Essentials and non-essentials

Here are some things I used to believe were essential components of the Christian faith. By which I mean, if you didn’t believe them, you weren’t really a Christian:

– A literal six-day creation
– A world that was little over 6,000 years old
– A pre-tribulation rapture
– The “inerrancy” of scripture
– “Hell” as essential conscious torment
– The penal substitution theory of the atonement
– Revelation, Matthew 24 and Danielic prophecy as yet to be fulfilled

Funny thing is, the older I get, the less I realise I know with any degree of certainty. If you asked me what I feel is critical for me to believe now in order to be saved, it would probably boil down to something like this:

– The sure knowledge that I am a pitiful sinner, utterly reliant on God’s gracious initiative for salvation
– Faith that Jesus is God’s messiah, and that he gave his life and rose from the dead to free me from sin and death and offer me eternal life as part of his body

I think that about sums it up. Simple, when it comes down to it.

Embracing the cross

Embracing the cross with Jesus is to be our salvation. It is to release ourselves into the realm of God, into God’s care, and to stop trying to work the human system of power and desire to get what we want.

— Dallas Willard, The Craftiness of Christ (the whole thing is well worth a read)

The gospel isn’t for sale

Money makes the world go round. We’ve heard this so often it’s become a cliché. In fact, there’s a lot of truth in it.

We live in a world that is predicated on buying and selling. We sell our services to an employer to get money to buy the food, clothing and shelter we need. Children enter the picture, and suddenly we need to buy more food, more clothes, and goodness knows what else. Thus has it ever been.

Modern consumer capitalism has taken this basic cycle and extrapolated it to an extreme degree. Just having enough for our own needs and those of our family is no longer enough. We begin to enjoy fancier food or decide we’d like to sport the latest fashions, so we have to earn more money to pay for it. Our perfectly serviceable car no longer looks as sleek and shiny as it once did, so we take out a bank loan to buy a new one, thus putting even more pressure on our pay packet. And, of course, we need the latest mobile phone, tablet, mp3 player, cable TV package… the list goes on. It’s no longer just about meeting our needs; it’s about establishing our identity and making a statement through how we dress, what we eat, what music we listen to on what device, even what brand of sunglasses we wear.

Multinational corporations understand this cycle of desire and fulfilment all too well. We’re surrounded by radio, TV, online, press and billboard ads all clamouring for our attention from the moment we wake up until we lay down our heads to sleep. And they’re all telling us essentially the same story: buy this product and you (or your family) will look and/or feel happier, thinner, sexier, cooler, healthier, cleverer, richer, calmer, stronger, more popular, more beautiful, and so on. Some companies even go so far as to conceive of marketing strategies that cunningly create and plant in our subconscious minds desires we didn’t even know we had, so that they can then fulfil those desires with their latest “must-have” product. Apple is perhaps the company that has used this strategy to most spectacular effect, more than once propelling it to the top of the list of the world’s most valuable companies, but it is far from the only company to spend an awful lot of money working out how to convince us what we really need.

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Finished work

We rest our souls on a ‘finished work,’ if we rest them on the work of Jesus Christ the Lord. We need not fear that either sin, or Satan, or law shall condemn us at the last day. We may lean back on the thought, that we have a Savior who has done all, paid all, accomplished all, performed all that is necessary for our salvation.

— J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John, Volume 3

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