We have nothing to do with our salvation

#hymnsforHim

There Is A Fountain

1. There is fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.

2. The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away.

3. Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power
’Til all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more.

4. E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be ’til I die.

5. When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave,
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I’ll sing Thy pow’r to save.

Salvation. There are many in the world today who say it is a farce. The only “salvation” you need is from your own insecurities and hindrances. That salvation comes from within – from realizing and tapping your own potential, your own “divine.” But why? Why would our insecurities be what holds us back? And why is there that sense of brokenness in the first place? We aren’t taught to feel broken – typically – we aren’t taught to sin, or break rules. We do however have be taught rules, guidelines, “do’s and dont’s.” Why is that the case? This hymn doesn’t speak to these things directly, but it does point to the facilitator of our salvation. The blood of Christ. And it is the sinners who are plunged into that pool that find their sin and brokenness paid for, and wiped away for eternity.

This salvation isn’t earned. And that is beauty of it. Think about it, if we needed to DO something to get saved, how would it be that the the sinner on the cross beside Jesus could be brought into heaven? He had done nothing – in fact, the Gospels together show us that he actually mocked Christ for a time while hanging beside Him. But in the end, he saw his error begged forgiveness, and was accepted immediately into the family of God. He prayed no specific prayer. He wasn’t baptized. He had no extreme conversion story to tell other Christians. He was simply a broken man, turning to the source of Life. And we, “though vile as he,” have the same chance at redemption, if we simply give up our “so-called” power for salvation.

His blood washes over the sins of His people. Regardless of nation, creed, language, or sin leaning. His own, the elect, the chosen from eternity – they will be washed in His sanctifying blood. Again I say, we have nothing to do with our salvation. We want to – oh, how badly we want to. We probably have a harder time coming to full grips with the Truth that we never deserve grace. That we will never earn the right to be called “sons and daughters of The Most High.” Look at most religions of the world:

  • Judaism – worship in the temple, follow the guidelines of Moses, sacrifices, be good. Two of which cannot be fulfilled fully now because there is no Davidic temple. It is about creating a ladder or sorts to reach up to YHWH to find salvation.
  • Islam – follow the 5 pillars as closely as possible (testimony, prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage). It is about reaching up to the heavens to find salvation.
  • Hinduism – pray to your god(s), participate in as much good karma as you can thus outweighing the bad karma, participate in the many rituals. Hinduism is a difficult system to pin down as there are multiple legitimate ways to practice the religion.
    • New Age, or Westernized “Eastern Religions” fall into a similar category. Do good, think positively, good karma > bad karma, be respectful, et al
  • Buddhism – again, this is difficult to pin down fully. There is the threefold jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha), the threefold way (ethics, meditation, and wisdom), the four noble truths, and the noble eightfold path. Buddha is not worshiped, but revered as the first to discover the path.
    • There is more sampling of Buddhism in Westernized “New Age.” The concept of doing right by others, treating all life with respect. Doing no harm. Veganism. Yoga. The eventual end is nothingness/oneness with all.
  • Paganism/Earthy religions – These revolve around conceptions of dharma, without the word. Doing right by Gaia, or Mother Earth. These religions/cults simply spring up everywhere, so pinning anything specific down is impossible. You can see reflections in Wicca, Celtic religions, and even the “new” Jedi Temple followers.
  • Mormonism – believe in the works of Christ, follow the tenets prescribed in The Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenant. The Book of Mormon is seen as a supplementary work to the Bible. In addition to knowing those scriptures, you are expected (basically required) to do a host of other things that are honestly contested among Mormons because of their secretive nature around many aspects of their faith.
    • It should be mentioned that the Bible explicitly states the following two things that Mormonism clashes with
      • 1) “if another teacher, or even an angel from above preach another message than the one you have been given, may they be cursed.” – (paraphrased) Galatians 1:8
      • 2) “if anyone adds to this book of prophesy may the curses be added to him, and if he takes away may his name be taken away from the Book of Life.” – (paraphrased) Revelation 22:19

 

I could go on to other religions/off shoots but I think the point has been made. Every other major religion across the world, and across time revolves around mankind doing something. Right worship, right speak, right actions, supplementary actions, etc… Christ is the opposite in every way. Christ was the one who had right speech, right actions, right worship, right living, etc… He, being God incarnate, came to earth and followed His own law to the letter from the Torah and fulfilled it! He came and reached down to his creation in it’s sin and despair. He saved us.

That is not an easy concept to want to grasp. It is honestly much easier, and much more enticing (on the surface) to simply follow a few rules. Be a good person. Do good things. Be kind. Smile. And find eternal bliss. But sin is more prevalent, and more encompassing than we wish to admit. Which is why we needed a perfect substitute for the sin. Christ was that propitiation. He was that perfect sacrifice that is called for in the Law of Moses. His blood, that was poured out at His crucifixion, is what washes away our guilt, our shame, our bad decisions, our mean words, our callous hearts. It can’t be us… we are broken.

 

But thanks be to God, that He has a way to find communion again.

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“The Sands of Time Are Sinking”

“The Sands of Time Are Sinking”

#hymnsforHim

The Sands of Time Are Sinking

1. The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for –
The fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark had been the midnight
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

2. The king there in His beauty,
Without a veil is seen:
It were a well-spent journey,
Though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army,
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land

3. O Christ, He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted
More deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

4. The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.

5. O I am my Beloved’s
And my Beloved is mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His house of wine
I stand upon His merit –
I know no other stand,
Not e’en where glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

I know this hymn from my childhood…but I can’t tell you the last time I sang it, let alone read through it. But – seriously – if you just skipped down to my words, go back and read through that! It’s like reading C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien! The imagery!! The content! Wow. Just wow.

 There is honestly so much in this song that speaks volumes about the beauty of God’s plan in this world. A plan that “brings a poor vile sinner into His house of wine.” It provides the answer to the two part question:

  1. Who is God?
  2. Who are we in relation to God?

God is He who, from the foundation of time, has been the fountain of all things. He is beautiful, He is glorious, He is mercy incarnate. God is He who with the same power that breaks the will of Leviathan (Job 41), gently lifts up the broken who trust on Him. God is He who willingly takes in those who are helplessly sinful and shows them a mercy that cannot be described with human analogy. His mercy is extended to those who are called according to His purpose. Mercy is not free to all, but free to those whom He foreknew. Those who He foreknew, He also predestined.  How just would mercy be if it were for everyone..?

Who are we? Well, we are the poor, vile sinner. We sin. Daily. I mess up. Daily. I find myself chasing after temptuous thoughts. Literally. I just want to find a new way to be a bad Christ-follower. I take part in teasing, or negative talk of someone at work. I seek that thing that arouses me in sin. Seek it. Look for it at times. Or maybe I get angry at my wife for no reason other than she was right about something that I wanted to be right about… thus making me feel guilty. Seriously. Sinning is one of the easiest things to do when fallen. All of mankind has this problem, and that should not be hard to see. So, as nasty vile sinners – what are we to do? Do we just simply ignore the problem, say it is made up, and pat ourselves on the back for being less evil than other more evil people?? No. We need salvation. We need cleaning. Thus, the mercy that God provides is most necessary to our eternal living arrangements.

But – as a nasty, vile, selfish, proud sinner – do you think I am going to just be like, “yea! awesome, you are going to take my sin away, reminding me of how terrible I am. AND, you are going to do it for free because, in your own perfect Will, You decided that I was to be called to be in your family? AND there is nothing I did to deserve or earn this? Great! Sounds good!” No. Of course not. That may sound like the easiest gig in the world. But it gives up control. We no longer command our fate. Our destiny then is necessarily sealed from the get go. We also must admit we were flawed in the first place. This too, a post/ultra-modern “no-no.” We can’t just give up control!? That flies in the face of all we are taught about who we are as people, as Americans... We must be commanders of our own fate. Captains of our own ship. But Christ calls us to toss all that aside and see Him as our true salvation.

The bride looks to the bridegroom, not her own garments. His beauty is immensely more beautiful than her own. Even at her best. She knows this. And is swept up in its Truth. It is His sacrifice that draws her attention the strongest, not the prize such a sacrifice awards. But this is a gospel we need to preach to ourselves daily. This isn’t always easy to remember. Christians, I think, get so caught up in the concept of sharing the gospel with others that we forget to preach the gospel to ourselves first. You must first find that God has brought you into right relation with Him before you can even attempt to bring another into right relation with Him. Remove the log from your own eye, before you point out the speck in another’s. And that analogy works both from a prideful and logical standpoint.

Finally, let’s Tarantino this, and go back to the very beginning of the song. “The sands of time are sinking…” We are in the last hour. Every minute we are alive is one minute closer to Christ’s return. We are given basically one calling as Christians – aside from trusting on Him who gave us eternal life. It actually spawns off from that gift and trust. Once, like I said above, we get our own heads on straight (facing Him, not ourselves), we need to be facing out. Into the world. Reflecting the Light of the world, Jesus the Christ. A friend of mine, quoting another theologian, told me a profound truth. If I were one outside the faith. If I had Christian friends who, believing to be holding the one true Key to eternal joy and eternal life with a God who had created all things with but words. AND, if those friends never had the gall or gumption to breach the subject with me… well, I would be appalled! Do I not deserve evangelism? Do I not need to hear these words, even if I think you are mad to the core? Regardless of what another person will say or think or do in response to your proposition of the Gospel, is it not your duty to share that Gospel??

“The sands of time are sinking.” Christ will return with no warning. And I ask you, American Christians? I ask myself… What are we doing about it? Are we drinking, and eating, and being merry – because tomorrow we die? Are we blissfully ignorant of our friends and family that have no saving faith? Are we… dare I say it… selfish? Selfish of the gift we have been given? I doubt that last one – or at least I hope not… Honestly I think it is fear. Fear of the “no.” Fear of rejection. Fear of awkwardness… And, let me say this, I am typing this – and hearing it in my head – and my words condemn me too. How easy is it to just slide along through life not offending anyone. Not bringing Truth into the conversation at work when you hear so many lies? Not being a source of Living Water when a friend needs it – even if they don’t want to hear it! Brothers and sisters. We rejected the Living Water too! We didn’t want to hear where we needed to change a portion of our lives. But Christ wants to save as many of mankind as He can. And trust me, He will save all of His people.

Don’t get me wrong. My, your, our personal involvement in salvation is moot. We are simply doing His work. But step back and think about that! God – in His infinite wisdom and power – knew it was best for me, for you, for us, to be involved personally in the salvation and evangelism of this world. We get the immense pleasure of being a part of a plan that reaches back before the foundation of the world. God chooses to use us, poor vile sinners, to bring the Truth of the Good News to other poor vile sinners. To share the stories that show the Truth of our fallen nature, but the just Truth of His mercy. That we stand in Christ alone for our salvation. The sands of time are sinking, and we need to ask ourselves how are we working out our salvation? Are we working it out with fear and trembling, as Paul writes, or are we complacent – poised to be spit out for the sin of “lukewarmness” as John writes?

If you have any questions, please comment or message me! If you like this post, please “like” and share! If you need me to expound on something, let me know! Thank you for reading, and have a great day!