Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Things that Belong to Salvation

At Hebrews 6:9 the author uses the phrase "things that belong to salvation."

I love that phrase, and am intrigued by that phrase, and am just a little troubled by that phrase. What are the things that belong to salvation?

As the author of Hebrews makes clear in the early stages of the letter, the little matter of who Christ is--what he has done, and what he is doing--spells salvation for troubled men and women in this troubled world. Death's dominion is from now on illusory. Christ has shattered its grip, and in so doing he has provided for all the opportunity to draw near to the throne of mercy and grace.

This is the key phrase of Hebrews: "draw near to the throne of grace." Why? Because, it is assumed, you're gonna need mercy and grace. You're gonna need it bad.

And the right things have happened, the right person has won the key battle and the right high priest now serves forever on our behalf, so that the multi-faceted  gift of mercy and grace is now available to God's needy children.

That's the gist of Hebrews so far. Draw near. To draw near is to enter into the spiritual rest and freedom from fear that is God's provision for his troubled people.

Then, in chapter 6, the author uses this phrase that has been haunting me for the last few days:
"things that belong to salvation."
I would suggest that "the things that belong to salvation" refers to the things that characterize, to one degree or another, the lives of those who have been saved. That is, those who have trusted Jesus' good news and so drawn near to the throne of grace.

I'm going to cherry-pick a couple things from this part of Hebrews (chapters 5 to 7) that might qualify for the list:

  1. the power of discernment to distinguish good from evil (5:14)
  2. love and service in God's name (6:10)
  3. a taste of the power of the age to come (6:5)
If you think about it, that little list sums up a lot of the promises that God has made to his people. Even in the midst of our troubles--especially in the midst of trouble--God will equip us with these things. But it's worth noting that this is a corporate promise, or a promise to a body of believers, and thus is experienced most fully among believers who are sharing their lives with one another.

In other words, the things that belong to salvation belong to life together.

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