God does not only save us from hell, but to commune and fellowship with Him

August 28, 2009

An easy trap to fall into as a believer or more specifically a new believer is the fact that God only saves us from Hell. “I’m saved, I’m saved! I am no longer going to hell!” I have certainly exclaimed that statement at least a couple of times in my life [maybe not those exact words]. However, upon conversion, the spiritually dead and flesh-driven scales were peeled from the eyes. The first thing a believer is reminded of upon conversion is his own dreadful condition. The other most immediate response for the new believer is that he now must respond in faith to his entirely new life due to the recognition of the forgiveness of sin.

Once a sinner is converted, the fear of death and hell [and simply the unknown] now has the marvelous light of the Gospel shone upon it. All ideas and previous thoughts of death and the afterlife have now been realized as idolatry and foolishness. Since the sinner is now saved, he now has been imparted the knowledge and righteousness by the Holy Spirit to know that he is not forsaken. The Mediator, Jesus Christ, intercedes on his behalf for all things because He now knows this particular sinner [from eternity]. The spirit has given life abundantly within the soul to now be zealous about the things of Christ and the true power that is given upon conversion.

First, death is no more. Although the body dies because of sin, it will live because of the Holy Spirit imparted by Christ to make the soul alive to God [Ephesians 2]. When Christians speak of “living because of the Holy Spirit,” they should mean it in a literal [physical] sense and not only spiritual. Just as Christ’s resurrection was necessarily a physical resurrection, so our literal deadness is literally made alive by God. The unregenerate unknown has now been made known in the regenerate. The soul has been given life.

“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’

O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:54-58.

As the Christian work abounds, so does the worldview of this entirely new life as a new creature in Christ. His dead works are now alive as he now knows the Creator of the Universe. The mystery of this Gospel is that we no longer live as our previous lives manifested, but now it is Christ who lives in us [Galatians 2:20]. We are now therefore inseparable and inescapable from Christ’s gracious love. Everything that was seen, learned, fashioned, fathomed, performed and renounced in the unregenerate is now understood through the lens of the Gospel in the regenerate. There is no more fear of death and what happens after the grave. In fact, the very essence of this new life is that the believer has already died to the flesh. He is already dead to the things of this life. This life is considered completely worthless and meaningless because they gain the infinite, eternal value of Christ. All other things, as Paul states, are counted as loss. He knows that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

If everything stated above is true about the Christian, then it is impossible to treat Christ as simply a way out of eternal destruction in hell. The power and realization of regeneration by the very Holy Spirit of God should be mutually exclusive to the fear of death and hell. By nature, we are either under wrath or mercy. By nature, we are either a sheep or a goat; vessel of honor or vessel of destruction, adopted or forsaken. One is to be eternally blessed in Christ and the other eternally condemned because he has broken the law and deserves only death [Romans 3:23]. The diametrical separation of these two decrees is immutable and not fully understood by human minds due to the eternal nature of the policy that is begun by the spirit of God.

As the believer’s life is consumed in the sanctification process, they are lead and guided only by the Holy Spirit into truth. The days and years are lead further and further away from thoughts of death, condemnation and life in this wretched world that is passing away [although they become more and more understood]. Sin of all sorts is recognized as evermore heinous and dreadfully deadly. The heart, mind and affections are continually set upon the eternal realm and not the immediate or temporal. The result of this worldview and mindset is manifested and attributed to gratefulness for the undeserved eternal deliverance from sin and beholding the radiant glory of Christ.

Consider the prophet Isaiah, who knew his own sinful nature to a great degree. “So I Said : Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of people with unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5
It does not appear that his primary assurance and focus is on the deliverance from Hell, Hades, the Pit or Sheol. Although Isaiah prophesied into words the fall of Lucifer, who ultimately dwells in Sheol [Isaiah 14:12-21], he first saw that he was a man who has sinned and that his transgression was great. The sensitivity to his own natural wretchedness caused him to see the holiness of God in light of understanding the purging of his sin [revealed to him by an angel]. “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged. [v. 7].” His heart was changed as his own sinful nature was being revealed to himself as he proclaimed, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” At this point, the prophet’s deliverance from sin causes him to respond immediately and with joy to the Lord’s command for him to preach.

It should become evermore apparent that Jesus Christ has is absolutely sovereign and has command over all things, including life and death [and all the things in between]. With our finite and sinful minds, we cannot comprehend the “rebuking of wind raging water [Luke 8:24].” If we are in the boat during the storm the disciples were subject to, we should realize that we are at the complete mercy of God at all moments. Even though Christians are born-again, our faith is not perfect because we still sin [unbelief]. If faith were perfect, then we would not need to “have faith in Christ”. Things would just be as they are in a non-fallen world. We would already know Christ as He is, perfect and holy. Jesus calming the wind and the waves is so far outside of our scope of thinking, the disciples asked, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him![v.25]” Jesus calms the waves in the open sea in the same way He rebukes, judges and holds the souls of fallen sinners. They are all always under His Sovereign rule. If you see and understand His wonderful, fearful, omnipotent rule and care, then you may see that death and hell have no precedence in creation and that all comes from Christ. If you are with Him in the boat, then there is no cause for concern.

Lastly, Jesus calls sinners unto Himself. “Getting saved” or “becoming a Christian” is not like pulling the rabbit out of a hat trick. It is not merely a statement to men to receive an all-access grant into a church. Neither is it merely a profession of faith to receive baptism or a result of many years as a church member. Rather, salvation is the miracle of regeneration where the sinner’s soul is reconciled to God through the bloody death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At this point a relationship is enacted and God’s voice becomes familiar and distinct from all others in that He speaks directly to our soul by His word and the Holy Spirit. He continually conforms our image to His in a way that sinners cannot do on their own. “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” John 10:14
Since Christ is and will be the Bride-Groom for God’s entire remnant, He keeps them and holds them throughout their entire life on earth because they belong to Him for eternity. He reminds them of the wickedness that dwells within them. He commands them to take every thought captive to the obedience of Him. He commands repentance. Thoughts and deeds of the elect must be consistently dwelt upon the great Worth of their Savior. Christ is the One who snatches them from the surety of death and destruction apart from Him. Our mortality is swallowed up by the infinite blessedness of immortality because of the Great work of our Savior on the rugged tree. If Christ is the all-consuming fire that we proclaim Him to be, then we already have victory over death, the grave and Hades. Then, thoughts of death and hell become distant, futile and worthless compared to the worth of the Savior. Simultaneously, Christians have the heightened sense of the reality of the imminence of death because of the Spirit. Therefore, they are the only ones that can effectively proclaim the resurrection of the dead in Jesus Christ with zeal, compassion and urgency to all nations that Jesus calls us unto Himself.

“For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”
Philippians 1:21-24

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