My “Personal” Salvation
Can I receive salvation apart from other people? I often find myself caught up in my own spiritual wellbeing without a great effort to aid or real concern for others' spiritual wellbeing.
Often the notion of our one-on-one relationship with Christ over shadows the greater purpose of God’s communion with us. Christ is taking his people somewhere, and we can’t get there by ourselves.
“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provide something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect” (11:40).
Who are “all these”?
They are the men and women of faith: “By faith Abel...By faith Abraham….By faith Sarah…” and others (11:4,8,11).
Who is God providing something better for? The Church, which of course includes me, but certainly not only me.
Can those who are recognized as great men and women of faith recieve the fullness of God's promises without believers living today and in the future? No.
Abraham’s obedience was credited to him as righteousness. He obeyed God and left his home “looking forward to the city” that God was building (11:10). Today, those who have faith Jesus, forsake the rules of the world, and become foreigners to postmodern culture and strangers to commercialism like Abraham became an exile in his own land. Believers “make it clear that they are seeking a homeland” (11:14). But like Abraham, we must not look back at our former way of living: "[i]f they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return” (11:15).
Why is it they didn’t look back? “But as it is, they desire a better country that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (11:15-16) .
In Hebrews 13, we get another glimpse of the City. Jesus was crucified outside of the city of Jerusalem. Why? The Jewish leaders emphasized their rejection of Christ by crucifying him “outside the camp” (11:11). Also, by tradition, the high priest preformed the atonement sacrifices outside of the camp, and since Jesus is our atoning sacrifice, he was crucified outside of the city. “Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (11:13-14).
WE, all believers, live in a city, but we also seeking a city that is to come, who’s builder and designer is God. And that city cannot—by definition—be just God and one person.
Our faith, like that of our forefathers, is shaped by those who came before and are around us now. We have an individual responsibility to seek God, but love for God, includes loving all those in communion with him. A lesson I’m still learning.
(These thoughts came from prompts and a class discussion led by Doug Hon.)