God’s will #1: Salvation
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV
Back on Monday we established that we’ve been asking the wrong question, vis-à-vis God’s will for our lives. We need to approach this question differently. Instead of querying God for his will for our lives – instead of making it about us – we need to make it about God. That changes the nature of the question, but it also challenges us on a more fundamental level to relook at our assumptions about our relationship with the Lord. Are we co-starring in God’s play, or have we reduced God to a bit player on the stage of our lives? Do we take his direction, or do we treat him like a stage hand – a background figure we only call on when things are going south? If we don’t grasp that our lives really aren’t, and as Christians definitely shouldn’t be, about us, we will never understand God’s will, and we will never be happy with those things he does want for our lives.
So, God’s will. Over the next two weeks we’ll be looking at five attributes of God’s will, of which the first is salvation. God’s will is salvation for all people. What that means for us is that he wants us all to be saved and, as we’ll see later on in the series, he wants us to be saved to the uttermost.
Two questions arise. The first question we need to ask is, simply, Why? Why does God want everyone to be saved? And perhaps we need to admit that we’re also asking, What exactly do you mean, “everyone”?
The simple answer to this question is “Yes!” and “Everyone!” The slightly more involved answer has two parts. Why does God want everyone to be saved? Most of us can put our hands up for this one and say, Because he loves us! And that’s true. But it’s not simply that God loves us, but rather that God is love. It is his very nature. It’s not an affectation; it’s not something that’s subject to change. It is the core of his character to an inexpressible degree. Loving us and wanting us to be and live like his children is the natural outflow of that.
Thinking about this, we might ask, Well, if that’s true and God is love, then why do we need salvation? The answer to this question forms the second part of our involved answer – there’s something we need to be saved from. Just as we need to actively work to make our lives God-centred, we need to understand that there’s something working actively against us doing just that. There’s a villain in this story. Old Nick, we think; but no. Well, he is a villain, but the biggest villain is how we use our free will. All this choice we have, all this choice we’ve been given by a God of love – what decisions are we making? Who do they benefit? Do they reflect God’s light, or do they suck it out of the world?
This leads us to the second question we need to ask about salvation, which is: How? How do we become saved? I think the answer to this question is a little easier than most of us are really comfortable with, because the answer is, “By choosing Jesus.” Back when I was really coming round to Christianity, this stumped me endlessly. What, I just choose Jesus? That’s it? And then? Certainly there’s more to it than that, I thought – and there is. You see, while we become saved the moment we choose Jesus for the first time (and I believe, attain salvation for all eternity – ergo grace), the real work of faith is continuing to choose Jesus every moment, day, week, month and year after that. But it all starts with that first, often fumbling decision that we need God, honestly and truly. Some people ask this question when they’re still young; others have to go around the ring a few times first. Still others ask this question after they’ve been a Christian for years. It doesn’t matter when we ask this question, as long as we ask this question in time, and acknowledge it still to be true no matter how much time has lapsed since we asked it first.
And if you haven’t asked in a while, take a moment now to ask again. The answer – that unequivocal “Yes!” – hasn’t changed, but we still might.
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”