Loving God (5)
What shall I render to the LORD
For all His benefits toward me?
I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD
Now in the presence of all His people. Psalm 116.12-14
My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
And Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know their limits. Psalm 71.15
The gift of salvation
Common courtesy demands that, when someone gives you a gift, you should express your appreciation. When someone who loves you and is devoted to you gives you a gift, you should not only express your gratitude but reciprocate your love by making good use of the gift, thereby honoring the giver.
The greatest gift any of us can receive is the gift of salvation. “It is the gift of God,” Paul explains (Eph. 2.8, 9). The gift of salvation comes to us from God, Who loves the world so much that He gave His only-begotten Son to live, die, and rise from the dead that all who believe in Him might be saved (Jn. 3.16).
God gives the gift of salvation for a purpose. He desires that we should know full and abundant life in Jesus Christ (Jn. 10.10). He wants us to grow in the righteousness of Jesus, that we might live in peace and joy throughout our earthly lives and forever with Him in the new heavens and new earth. This is how God is glorified in our lives, and how others are drawn to Him and the gift of salvation.
The gift of salvation is a gift that keeps on giving. We can never reach to the full limits or realize all the abundant promise and life that salvation brings to us. Ours is a great salvation (Heb. 2.3). And the way to increase in our salvation is through good works (Eph. 2.10), beginning with those good works that help us increase in love for God.
We love God as we seek His Presence and delight in His Word. But we also love God as we love the gift of salvation He has given, and seek to increase in it, that we may realize as much as possible of what God intends in giving us this incredible gift.
How do we love the salvation of God, and thus increase in loving Him Who gives us this great gift?
Enjoying God’s salvation
The psalmist saw the salvation of God as a thing greatly to delight in. He understood what the Law of God taught, that those whom God has saved will gather frequently and regularly to celebrate their status as the chosen and redeemed of the Lord. And they will become so immersed in, devoted to, and suffused with the salvation God has given them, that they would increase in righteousness and know fullness of peace and joy.
Salvation is like a toast which friends share to honor their Host, partake of His blessings, and become filled with His Spirit and life. The world sees the salvation of God as oppressive, confining, and devoid of fun. Those who have received this gift know otherwise. We rejoice in our salvation, and we gather to celebrate the possession of it and to honor and rejoice in Him Who gives it to us. The more we delight in our salvation and seek to increase in the joy of it, the more our love for God will increase.
Working out our salvation
Salvation comes to us complete in Jesus Christ. But we must work out our salvation so that we increase in the joy and power of it day by day (Phil. 2.12). The people of Israel were given a land abounding with milk and honey; but they had to work the land, work at community life, and work to increase in love for God in order to realize the full potential of the gift God had given them. The Law of God was their guide for working out their salvation, just as it is the primary guidebook for us.
We do not work for our salvation, but if we do not work it out, salvation will always remain a stunted flower, waiting to be cultivated and to bloom. In God’s Presence, and by His Word and Spirit, they who love God and rejoice in His salvation will make the time and invest the effort necessary to realize more of the full and abundant life that is theirs in Jesus. Working out our salvation is daily work, hard work, spiritual work, but glorious work, for it yields the fruit of increased righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Studying our salvation
Part of working out our salvation is to devote ourselves to increased understanding of the scope and promise of that great gift. Being saved does not mean merely that we go to heaven when we die. The work of salvation Jesus has accomplished for us makes all things new in our lives, and sets us on a path to restore the reconciled world to the goodness, beauty, and truth that glorifies God (2 Cor. 5.17-21), beginning right where we live.
Before we can work out our salvation we need to understand how this great gift applies to all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities. How must I love my neighbor? What is justice? How can the salvation of the Lord beautify and enhance the goodness of my world? The Law of God and all the rest of God’s Word are our primary source for understanding the richness, power, and promise of our great salvation.
Proclaiming our salvation
The joy of receiving a gift can make us want to tell others about the gift we have received. This is proof both of the value of the gift and the love we bear for the one who gave it.
So it is with our salvation. We honor and love the Giver of our salvation as we share that salvation with others, telling them about the gift and urging them to receive it for themselves. If we never talk about our salvation, people might wonder whether it really matters much to us. God Himself might wonder that; so because we love Him and this great gift He has given, we proclaim and share it with others.
As we can never fully grasp the enormity of our salvation, we ought always to have something new and exciting to share about it, to encourage those who also have this gift, and to proclaim to those who do not.
Celebrating our salvation
The worship of God is about celebrating Him Who has given us the gift of salvation (cf. Rev. 4, 5). In our daily times with the Lord, delighting in His Word, we who have been saved will offer praise and thanks and rejoicing in His Presence. When we gather as a community to worship, that praise should grow to a great chorus of love expressed in prayers, singing, giving, hearing God’s Word, and communing with Him.
All this seems natural enough – enjoying our salvation, growing in it, studying it’s scope and promise, sharing and celebrating the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. When we love the salvation of God in works such as these, we show God that we love Him, and we fan the flames of that love for God, so that our love for Him grows hotter and more fervent, day by day.
1. Why is working out our salvation a good work?
2. How does the Word of God help us in loving our salvation?
3. How can you become more consistent in sharing and proclaiming the gift of salvation?
Next steps – Preparation: In prayer, review how you came to a saving knowledge of Christ. Thank God for everyone who was involved. Praise Him for the gift of salvation, and ask Him to give you one person to share that gift with today.
T. M. Moore
One way to add reading and meditation in the Law to your daily devotional life is to download A Kingdom Catechism, which contains 135 questions and answers to help you make better use of God’s Law in your daily life (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.