Today many Christians think that salvation is only about escaping hell after you die. Of course salvation does involve the wonderful gift of assurance that you and I will not perish after this life, but will forever be with the Lord. Yes it is the end of a life lived in the flesh.
Romans 6:6-7 CEV We know that the persons we used to be were nailed to the cross with Jesus. This was done, so our sinful bodies would no longer be the slaves of sin. We know sin doesn't have power over dead people.
Galatians 5:24-25 CEV And because we belong to Christ Jesus, we have killed our selfish feelings and desires. God's Spirit has given us life, and so we should follow the Spirit.
Colossians 3:5 CEV Don't be controlled by your body. Kill every desire for the wrong kind of sex. Don't be immoral or indecent or have evil thoughts. Don't be greedy, which is the same as worshiping idols.
Salvation is not just an end in itself for this life but it is instead the beginning of a new and great adventure in the kingdom of God.
Brian D. McLaren, pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in suburban Washington, D.C., describes this new beginning in his book, Adventures in Missing the Point. In the chapter titled “Missing the Point: Salvation, in what he calls the “Parable of the Race.”
Parable of the Race
Once upon a time, in a land of boredom and drudgery, exciting news spread. “There is going to be a race! And all who run this race will grow strong and they’ll never be bored again!” Exciting news like this had not been heard for many a year, for people experienced little adventure in this ho-hum land, beyond attending committee meetings, waiting in lines, sorting socks, and watching sitcom reruns.
Excitement grew as the day of the race drew near. Thousands gathered in the appointed town, at the appointed place. Most came to observe, skeptical about the news. “It’s too good to be true,” they said. “It’s just a silly rumor started by some teenaged troublemakers. But let’s stick around and see what happens anyway.”
Others could not resist the invitation, arriving in their running shorts and shoes. As they waited for the appointed time, they stretched and jogged in place and chattered among themselves with nervous excitement. At the appointed time they gathered at the starting line, heard the gun go off, and knew that it was time to run.
Then something very curious happened. The runners took a step or two or three across the starting line, and then abruptly stopped. One man fell to his knees, crying, “I have crossed the starting line! This is the happiest day of my life!” He repeated this again and again, and even began singing a song about how happy this day was for him.
Another woman started jumping for joy. “Yes!” she shouted, raising her fist in the air. “I am a race-runner! I am finally a race-runner!” She ran around jumping and dancing, getting and giving high fives to others who shared her joy at being in the race.
Several people formed a circle and prayed, quietly thanking God for the privilege of crossing the starting line, and thanking God that they were not like the skeptics who didn’t come dressed for the race.
An hour passed, and two. Spectators began muttering; some laughed. “So what do they think this race is?” they said. “Two or three strides, then a celebration? And why do they feel superior to us? They’re treating the starting line as if it were a finish line. They’ve completely missed the point.”
A few more minutes of this silliness passed. “You know,” a spectator said to the person next to her, “if they’re not going to run the race, maybe we should.”
“Why not? It’s getting boring watching them hang around just beyond the starting line. I’ve had enough boredom for one life.”
Other’s heard them, and soon many were kicking off their dress shoes, slipping out of their jackets, throwing all this unneeded clothing on the grass. And they ran – past the praying huddles and past the crying individuals and past the jumping high-fivers. And they found hope and joy in every step, and they grew stronger with every mile and hill. To their surprise, the path never ended – because in this race, there was no finish line. So they were never bored again.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 CEV You know that many runners enter a race, and only one of them wins the prize. So run to win! Athletes work hard to win a crown that cannot last, but we do it for a crown that will last forever. I don't run without a goal. And I don't box by beating my fists in the air. I keep my body under control and make it my slave, so I won't lose out after telling the good news to others.
2 Timothy 4:7-8 CEV I have fought well. I have finished the race, and I have been faithful. So a crown will be given to me for pleasing the Lord. He judges fairly, and on the day of judgment he will give a crown to me and to everyone else who wants him to appear with power.
The Bible says that you and I will have a life beyond anything we have experienced here. Jesus came to give you salvation for the life beyond this life and a great future that goes beyond anything that we can fully comprehend.
John 14:1-3 CEV Jesus said to his disciples, “Don't be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father's house. I wouldn't tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together.
Revelation 21:18-21 CEV The wall was built of jasper, and the city was made of pure gold, clear as crystal. Each of the twelve foundations was a precious stone. The first was jasper, the second was sapphire, the third was agate, the fourth was emerald, the fifth was onyx, the sixth was carnelian, the seventh was chrysolite, the eighth was beryl, the ninth was topaz, the tenth was chrysoprase, the eleventh was jacinth, and the twelfth was amethyst. Each of the twelve gates was a solid pearl. The streets of the city were made of pure gold, clear as crystal.
He came to give you and me salvation (rescue) from the past, new life for the present, and a great future beyond this life.
Salvation is just the beginning!