Wednesday, May 09, 2007

personal salvation

personal salvation is not the goal of your life. it is not the end of your purpose. it is not even God's goal for your life. personal salvation is the encounter with God that propels you into His redemptive movement in the world. personal salvation is a means to the end that God is doing in this world. when God saved me, He created in me something new that would bring about newness in others.

Tim Keller said something like this, and I'm working through it. Any thoughts?


D.G. Paul said...

Heard him say that.

It's funny, I was talking to someone about this today (salvation). It seems no one wants to say that the gospel is all about YOUR salvation...but when it comes to identifying WHAT salvation is for the individual as well as for the world, we get a little tongue-tied.

To me, it sounds like Tim Keller got tongue-tied here (and I have all the respect for him in the world).

I think what he is trying to say is this: Your individual salvation is a means to an end, not the end itself.

If at any time you confuse this, you will have missed the point of what God is up to in the world.

I think that's what he's trying to say.

Jordan said...

Josh your thoughts made me think about the doctrine of election. It is sad to me that election somehow turned into the doctrine of who is in and who is out. When throughout the biblical story we see God elected particular people for the salvation of all people.

God created Eve and Adam to begin the whole human race. He chose Noah, Abraham, Moses, the nation of Israel, etc...

God's choice was never for the purpose of exlcusion, but for inclusion. God choses particular people to begin the work of salvation in them so that it can organically spread throughout the whole world.

Josh said...

doug, thanks for your clarification.

i think there is an element of individual and corporate in everything that God is doing. thinking about the demoniac roaming the tombs on the other side of Galilee, Jesus saved him from his tormenters and then used that to show that village his power. But God's vision for the world is one that includes freedom, so that means going to individuals who aren't free and releasing them from captivity (physical, emotional, drugs, porn). He then uses those people to impact others.

but as I type it out, it's the same conversation about pain and suffering. Some say that God puts us through suffering so that we can help others with it later. Some say that God brings us through suffering (not putting it on us) and then uses our experience to help others. So what's the point of individual suffering? Is it just so that I can help others later? No, it draws me closer to God and as I get closer to God, I draw others closer to God.

Jordan, your exploration of election is great. Leslie Newbiggin references that quite well in Gospel in a Pluralistic Society.

Z said...


Great to hear from you. You were right, Wine and Heaven was really good.
It seems like I am in a phase once again where I can see a few more of the inconsistencies in my worldview and, while working through this theology of the new creation, things have been coming together better. This salvation story that I am a part of keeps getting bigger and more beautiful; complex and sensual.
However, I am running into the problem of how to share this with other people. Not just other people, I guess, other Christians. Okay, the other Christians in my church that grew up with me and are very set in their thinking. Fiddling with people's views on the afterlife is sticky business, especially when the things you are working through directly affect stances on war and social justice and what it really means to follow Jesus. I do not want to leave them alone, but how does one lead people through a process like this? To paraphrase King: I cannot fully be what I ought to be until they are what they ought to be. How do we get there together?
I need my community, but I feel like a hypocrite because if they knew some of the things I thought, I would be exiled. However, their voices in my life have been vital to me. I love them and want to see them grow. Where do I go from here?
Oh well, that is just where I have been for a while now. I hope you are doing well.

Z said...

"personal salvation is a means to the end that God is doing in this world"
"Your individual salvation is a means to an end,"

It seems like personal salvation is a means to a beginning, not an end.

In fact, it seems like a means to a beginning with no end, ever...

Like it was in the beginning: Humankind in the garden with God, gazing out on endless, infinite possibilities and then getting to work.

We have a new beginning. We have freedom for the first time. Possibilities to love the Lover who loves us stretch before us. There is plenty to do. It is time to get to work.

Jessica said...

the last bit reminds me of something Dave Curtiss said at FOL, I think (and probably many others): "You weren't just saved FROM something, but TO something".
I think that we need to take it from just "whew, we're saved from the fire and brimstone, let's preach to others" but to "how can I show Christ and His love to others?".
in your comment about freedom, it made me think of a domino chain, or ripples in water, you choose. you affect one, and they affect another (pay it forward?) due to their proximity.
in our Christian tradition class, Severson pointed out that much of Western Christianity's ideas about salvation involve "intellectual assent" that can even be done in front of a TV, without community. our individual salvation should affect those in and outside of the Christian community.