Thursday, January 10, 2008

God, Our Daily Savior (Psalm 68:19-20)

Blessed be the Lord,
who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation. Selah
Our God is a God of salvation,
and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.
(Psalm 68:19-20)

One sure-fire way to lose the joy of your salvation is to fail to understand how, day by day, God is our salvation.

We tend to often think of salvation in past and future, but not present terms. We're think of our justification before God when we first believed and repented. We think of our eternal home with the Lord in the new heavens and new earth in a resurrection body that will not perish or fail in any way.

But yet we fail to think about how, day by day, God is saving us, how God is bearing us up, and that daily walk in Christ is part and parcel of our salvation. It is the sanctification experience of our salvation.

The Apostle Paul wrote on that in Philippians where he links our ongoing sanctification with the ultimate fulfillment of our salvation: the redemption and glorification of our bodies at the return of Christ (1:6-11). Portions in bold are my emphasis:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, [4] both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Paul first assures the church at Philippi that God is faithful to complete the good work of salvation He began. God never aborts his mission of salvation upon those whom He has called. Paul does note the responsibility of the Christian to grow in grace, and he prays for the same, but Paul is most highly confident that God will accomplish the sanctification of His church to His glory.

God's interested in saving us day by day by sanctifying us for loving service to Him, by training us in all knowledge and discernment in the counsel of His Word, by purifying us from lusting after and trusting in the deceitful cares of this world and our sin-inclined flesh, and by growing in us "the fruit of righteousness" that flows from, and only from, our union with Christ (John 15:5).

This passage reminds me of Christ talking of Himself as the Vine and His disciples as the branches of that vine (John 15:1-17). Apart from connection to the life-giving, nourishing vine, the branches are no good. They are destined for the fire as they bear no fruit. The branches cannot of their own nature produce the supply of nourishment to yield useful fruit, they are useless without union to the vine.

So it is with us and Christ.

We can and will grow in godly character day by day as we abide in Christ and are united to the Vine. Day by day we are being saved by life-giving union with Christ, who ensures we will bear fruit, and by the discipline of the Father, who prunes the branches which bear fruit (John 15:2) so that we may grow in a healthy and more fruitful manner.

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