What does it mean to be saved?
It is a tautology to state that salvation implies being fully human. To be fully human means, precisely, that one is saved, and to be saved is to be caught up in the always forever embrace of God the Father, all the while moving deeper into the heart of Jesus Christ.
The saying is trustworthy, what a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms.
Inside the lovingkindness of God is the forgiveness of our sins at the cost of the death of the Son of God, from whom we receive reconciliation to and with the Father. The reconciliation of the human being to Jesus Christ is the repetition of the first fulfillment, the true human, the only fully human being, Jesus of Nazareth, who was and is and forever shall be the Christ.
To be saved further locates one person as situated and embedded in a particular historical and cultural circumstance, and it is an affirmation of one’s material existence as such in the world that is fallen and plunged into emptiness and anxiety. It is this, rather than a burning up of our individualities, of our personalities.
We have already spoken of sin. But how often is it that one would recoil and reject this judgement? How often do our brothers and sisters reject this judgement, and instead proclaim that humanity is itself divine? To say we are alone is to crown ourselves as the gods of a dystopian universe of meaninglessness and nothingness. It is not possible for beings made by the Lord to cease worship. We are what we worship and we worship what we love, so we are what we love, as Augustine said. And our will to love is as properly basic to our humanity, just as water is to snow.
We are confronted with the dilemma of the gospel. This is to say, we are confronted with a God who intervened and who interrupted the order of things. As we debated the allegedly higher questions of the human condition, God himself commissioned his son to deliver us from the captivity of the wise, from the prison of the self, from the terror of death.
We are as instruments, and the brokenness of our sin is the mis-tuning of our hearts. Our hearts are out of tune, and the will to love fuels the energies that flow forth from an array of misdirected desires. So the instruments we play are out of tune, they play a melody that is neither bold and conservative nor experimental and risqué. Rather, they are thoughtless and unplanned seizures of the Void.
We are creatures caught between the restlessness of impossible beginnings and the horror of endless annihilation. The tremors of time’s reach produce the anxiety of estrangement and alienation. It is at our profound disadvantage should we fail to see that, contrary to the word of the Devil, the judgement of God is the world’s explosion and exhaustion of wrath on Jesus Christ, as Bonhoeffer wrote. The wrath of the universe is burnt out on the flesh of the Son of God, who dies in the fullness of death.
In the midst of our pain, the death of God and resurrection to new life usher in the event of grace. We are not vessels into which teaching and nourishment are poured in. We are participants in the glory of God himself, and as such we participate in the event of God’s grace. We are dead to sin in Christ’s death and alive again in his resurrection. The judgement of God is the death of Jesus and the liberation of humanity to live in fellowship and righteousness with the Lord.
God our righteousness and deliverer stands to rescue the world from itself. The lordship of man shall come to an end when we rule in the legitimate office of prince and princess, not as king and queen. The illegitimate reign of Satan is the myth of our own self-coronation. He who has led us astray with promises of autonomy and liberty has flipped the switch and has weighed us down with millstones and chains.
God the liberating king in Jesus Christ has unshackled us from the tyranny of our autonomy. The Void of estrangement and alienation is shocked into the rhythm of prayerful obedience, and as the Void is filled with God’s presence, as our communion with the Lord fills the world with light, the Void shall become the Voice which will proclaim the resounding Yes to our cry:
“And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight, / The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; / The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, / Even so, it is well with my soul.”
What a fellowship it is that our God is with us! What a joy divine that our God loves us! Will you not rest in the everlasting arms of Jesus Christ today?