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“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

—Romans 8:37

We go to Christ for forgiveness, and then too often look to the law for power to fight our sins. Paul thus rebukes us, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Take your sins to Christ’s cross, for the old man can only be crucified there: we are crucified with him. The only weapon to fight sin with is the spear which pierced the side of Jesus. To give an illustration—you want to overcome an angry temper, how do you go to work? It is very possible you have never tried the right way of going to Jesus with it. How did I get salvation? I came to Jesus just as I was, and I trusted him to save me. I must kill my angry temper in the same way? It is the only way in which I can ever kill it. I must go to the cross with it, and say to Jesus, “Lord, I trust thee to deliver me from it.” This is the only way to give it a death-blow. Are you covetous? Do you feel the world entangle you? You may struggle against this evil so long as you please, but if it be your besetting sin, you will never be delivered from it in any way but by the blood of Jesus. Take it to Christ. Tell him, “Lord, I have trusted thee, and thy name is Jesus, for thou dost save thy people from their sins; Lord, this is one of my sins; save me from it!” Ordinances are nothing without Christ as a means of mortification. Your prayers, and your repentances, and your tears—the whole of them put together—are worth nothing apart from him. “None but Jesus can do helpless sinners good;” or helpless saints either. You must be conquerors through him who hath loved you, if conquerors at all. Our laurels must grow among his olives in Gethsemane.

—Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Morning and Evening (23 April, Morning)


I will be tremendously encouraged for the spiritual health of Christ's body when a believer, if asked "When were you saved?," is confident to simply respond with one powerful word: Today.

At risk of jumbling theological terminology, many of us make too little of salvation. A popular (largely Western, contemporary, and evangelical) understanding of salvation is primarily concerned with and limited to justification—through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, the Christian's sin-stained record before God is cleared once and for all. Also, through Christ's resurrection, we know the promise of abundant, eternal life at peace with God. These are all marvelous and true, but left here, we are simply waiting in lifeboats for Jesus to come pick us up, and while waiting is surely a large component of our faith, we may exercise it very little within the current context of our lives.

In other words, what about now?

A limited understanding of being "saved" is a breeding ground for a powerless and fragmented life. What if Moses or David never cried out to God for salvation in their immediate circumstances? Not only would the Hebrew Bible be empty and uncompelling (the Psalms alone would be more than decimated), but the glory of God would never have been revealed in the same way. And, as we might well know, our enemies are not merely flesh and blood, but cosmic powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12).

As well as being the Founder of our faith, Jesus is also its Perfecter (Hebrews 12:1-2). Among other things, His teachings and miracles refocus our perspective on our true enemy in this world, from which we need to be saved both once and for all and again and again. Did He intend for our current struggles with sin to be met with our hands folded neatly upon our laps, looking wistfully into the distance? Or did He save us from the future penalty of sin just to abandon us to our own devices when we face it today? I don't know about anyone else, but left to my own strength, sooner or later I fold like a house of cards. Sin is still an enemy I cannot beat. It is God-sized. For whatever reason, it gives God glory for such battles to be fought in our lives today. And it stands to reason that our accountability partnerships, battle verses, and seven-principled plans have, even at their very best, limited value in bringing Him glory on their own. We don't need to be stronger so much as we need to be saved.

He must save us, today. We need salvation, today.

Comments

Good thoughts.

There are so many different correct answers to the question, "When were you saved?" that it barely makes any sense. Here is an incomplete list:
- in the mind of God before the worlds were made
- on a cross outside Jerusalem in AD 30
- in any one of the historical events that led up to, or grew from, that event
- when I first believed consciously; i.e. was converted
- when I was baptized into His Body, the Church
- yesterday
- today
- tomorrow
- when I die and am ushered into His Presence
- at the Resurrection and Last Judgment

You are right: ignoring any of these dimensions of our salvation risks practical impotence.
Spot on. And "impotence" is such a perfect word that I used it in conversation with know below.
I think a distinction between

a.) being saved from final judgment for our sins, and
b.) being "saved" from temptations of engaging in sin in everyday life

might be helpful here -

But Yes, we must call out to Christ for rescuing from the temptations of engaging in sin in everyday life, even when our eternal security has been granted by Christ's final sacrifice. And yes, we are powerless to overcome these temptations independent of God's merciful intervention and power.

Second post I've seen today quoting Spurgeon. Today's off to a great start!
Agreed that the distinctions are both true and helpful theologically; practically, I'm left wondering if we've let those distinctions compartmentalize salvation into impotence. When someone cries to God for salvation in Scripture, how much do they seem concerned with those distinctions, and how much do they just plain need to be saved by God? Perhaps if we were more in touch with that need, within the context of the assurance we have by faith, our relationship with God and who He is/who we need Him to be in our lives would be rejuvenated a bit. Just a thought, and a bit of hope.
It's interesting that you mentioned the Old Testament historical characters in your original post, and their cries for deliverance.

In thinking over the New Testament, we do not see the same degree/amount of crying out in agony... in fact, with Stephen at his stoning as an example, we see much the opposite.

I wonder if this is a case of the difference between believers with the indwelling Holy Spirit seen in the New Testament and believers possibly lacking that same experience in the Old? Or, is it a by-product of the much-longer time period the Old Testament represents when compared to the single generation represented in the New, therefore the amount of material there is larger?

Curiouser and curiouser...
That is interesting. Worth some thought.
Thinking it over further at lunch, I was reminded of Gethsemane - and the ultimate cries of anguish from Christ himself, so my last statement should be taken with that in mind...

So true...

This is one of the things that I've loved about Orthodoxy...there is a parable about a little girl who approached a priest, tugged on his robe, and asked,"When were you saved?"

He laughing looked at her and said, "On a hill in 33 AD." Thus the focus is on Christ, not us...

And moreso, they say often in Orthodoxy, "I have been saved (by Christ's work), I am being saved (His continual protection & preservation), and I will be saved (on the last day, at the judgment)." I like that, too.

Salvation by faith is imperative. But who wants to boil God down to lifeguard and then leave Him on the shore while we swim our own way while here on earth?

Beautiful, appreciated thoughts.

I die daily...

A limited understanding of being "saved" is a breeding ground for a powerless and fragmented life.

... all is well put. thank you!