How do you think of judgement and salvation?
If you ask me – you shouldn’t think like this:
Instead think like this:
Or to be a bit more nuanced - like this.
Now I could take this observation in many directions.
Perhaps we could explore its significance for an infra versus supra-lapsarian debate.
Perhaps we could discuss the strong link that some make between penal substitutionary atonement and limited atonement.
We could think about how to preach warnings of judgement (for instance warnings of exile in the OT) given that judgement is a-coming.
But I’m going to take the observation in this direction…
I’m becoming convinced that when Jesus says ‘Take up your cross and follow me’ (Mark 8:34) He’s saying the same thingas Paul when he says ‘I was crucified with Christ and I no longer live’ (Gal 2:20).
Think of some of Jesus’ words:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matt 10:34-39)
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:24-26)
In the context of Jesus’ own judgement and salvation He tells His followers what it means to come after Him. It means being caught up in that same path – the only path of life. Seeds must die to live - so it is with The Seed so it is with themany offspring His death produced. Judgement then salvation. To be saved is to die with Jesus – to join Him for an early judgement day and pass through to find true life.
Compare this with some words from Paul:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his, etc, etc (Rom 6:3-5 and following)
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal 6:14)
Here Paul describes his history as utterly determined by the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Judgement and salvationhave happened for Paul because he has died and risen with Jesus to new life on the other side of wrath, death, sin, law, old creation. And (apart from his Adamic flesh that still clings to him) he is utterly dead to the world around him and utterly brought into ‘newness of life’.
Now. Think of a sermon you’ve heard on the Jesus verses. And think of a sermon you’ve heard on the Paul verses. I imagine the tone of those two sermons was quite different. I imagine that the Jesus sermons spent a lot of time presenting His words as moralistic exhortations and ‘if-then’ conditions before (perhaps) the preacher retracted the force of them and told you not to forget that you’re ‘saved by grace’ (‘grace’ understood along the lines of diagram 1 not diagram 2). And I imagine the Paul sermon comforted you with the whole ‘union with Christ’, ‘newness of life’ stuff and encouraged you that ‘hey, you really are saved by grace.’ (again, probably ‘grace’ as understood according to diagram 1)
I wonder if the Jesus sermons should sound more like the best of the Paul sermons. And the Paul sermons should sound like the best of the Jesus sermons. In other words, Jesus, the Seed, dies and rises on your behalf. If you are His rejoice that you are created, shaped and defined by this death and resurrection in which you are crucified to the the whole world, and the whole world is crucified to you. This is your salvation because there simply is no other way to resurrection than through the cross. ‘Come and die’ is not a fearful condition of life – maybe you’re up to it, maybe not. It’s the description of how that life comes, wrapped up in the announcement that Jesus really has crucified the world to raise it up new – come on in.
If you are not dead to the world, this might well be a sign that you are not His. Or that you have wandered far from Him. So go to Him and take that easy yoke onto your shoulders (Matt 11:28-30). Be constrained by the death and resurrection of Jesus, for this is salvation. Or else be wearied and burdened by your own, much heavier yokes which cannot lead youthrough the judgement to come.
But for those who are yoked to Christ, know that you have begun, even now, to live that newness of life. Even today as we walk together with Jesus, dying to sin and self and the praises and worries of this world, resurrection life is unleashed. This mystical union with Christ (the best of the Paul sermons) is earthed in the daily discipleship of living for Jesus (the best of the Jesus sermons). Let’s have both.
I wonder if that’s why Peter finishes his first letter (which is all about this judgement then salvation dynamic) by saying ‘This is the true grace of God.’ 1 Peter 5:12.
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