Sep 5, 2010

Jesus Our Captain Leads Us to Victory

In talking with most Christians, you would learn that their view of the word "salvation" or "saved" is generally limited to having their sins forgiven and going to Heaven when they die. Therefore a common question one hears is "Are you saved?" or "When did you get saved?". However, if one looks closely at the biblical usage of the word salvation and its cognates, one finds that far and away, the most common use of the idea is "to be delivered from one's enemies". In line with that usage, a practical synonym for the concept of salvation is victory or overcoming.
Why is this important?

For the last while back, I've had times when I can't stand myself. I want to throw in the towel, so to speak. As King David said, "My sin is ever before me". Like the Apostle Paul (Rom. 7), the good that I want to do, I do not do; but the evil I do not want to do, this I do. I've gotten so frustrated and echo Paul's cry "O wretched (wo)man that I am" (Rom. 7:24). But over the last few weeks, the Lord has opened up my eyes to a critical Biblical truth regarding how I can have victory. What joy, what expectation this has given me - passages have taken on whole new meanings.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for deliverance (victory) to everyone who believes!" (Rom. 1:16). In Romans, Paul uses "justified" in referring to the point in time when a person believes in Jesus for eternal life and as a result is given a right standing before God (Rom. 4-5). Justification is a legal term, meaning declared righteous. It's how God sees me - it's not how I am practically speaking. But in Romans 6, Paul tells me that I was buried with Christ Jesus by baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, I too might walk in newness of life. There's a resurrection power available to me to help me in very practical ways in my struggles.

In Romans 8:11, Paul declares, "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies, through His Spirit who dwells in you." In these frail, mortal bodies of ours, we can have an experience of life that manifests the resurrecting power of God. Living victoriously is not the product of my human strength or determination. It is God's miracle - His supernatural work in me. "'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 4:6).

But how do I get that help - how do I experience this work of the Spirit? That's what the Lord is beginning to teach me.

If you're like me, you have heard Romans 10:13 used as an invitation to receive eternal life many times. "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." But thanks be to God, that is not what that verse means. In the context and usage of Romans, the word means deliverance, obtaining the victory. Back up to Romans 10:10. Paul says "For with the heart one believes and is justified" - this is how we receive eternal life. "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness" (Rom. 4:3). Continuing on with Romans 10:10, Paul then goes on to say "and with the mouth one confesses and is saved (i.e., delivered, overcomes and obtains the victory).

So how do I experience resurrection power - how does the Spirit give life to my dead body? I call on the name of the Lord in my moment of need. The writer of Hebrews expresses it this way, "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Jesus is my High Priest - He lives for ever to intercede for me. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was perfected through sufferings (2:10) and "For in that which He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted" (2:18). You see, it was suffering that completed our Messiah for His role. He is our "Captain" (Heb. 2:10) and He who was victorious in His temptations and sufferings now leads us through our temptations and sufferings to victory! You want to know how to win, how to be successful - you go to the one who has been victorious.
I'm humbled and thankful that the one and only true God, the God of the Bible, is both willing and able to help me. Jesus' desire is to bring many sons and daughters to glory. There's a lot of things wrong in this fallen world because of our sin. Jesus is the only one doing anything about it. What an awesome God we serve. All hail King Jesus!

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