Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
— Revelation 22:1-5
Oh beloved, it is true. There is a clear sense throughout Scripture that salvation by G_d comes in (at least) three forms. (1) He has saved us from the penalty of our sins. (2) He saves us now from the power of sin over our lives. (3) He will save us from the presence of sin altogether one Day.
All three of these facets of the jewel of our salvation are of immeasurable worth. Said simply, for believers in Christ, we are saved from hell, then from ourselves, and eventually from anything that is not of Him. This is a glorious hope!
Imagine an eternity in the presence of our wonderful G_d, with wonderfully perfected people, and where everything works like it should – forever. This is very good news!
And as He works this salvation out in us, we begin to see that there are some once-and-for-all transactions, and some milestones along the way – but mostly, we begin to see that His salvation is like the flow of a river in our lives. It is no stream. This river is a multi-currented torrent in our lives. It cleanses, it erodes, it channels, it waters, it carries, it brings nutrients, it floods, it carves and it flows.
Our salvation is not like some hobby where we collect little mementos along a tour of experiences and Bible readings on the way to heaven. It is more like a huge river flowing in the spring, carrying us along in its current. Surely, we are learning and growing. But this learning and growth is not something that is to be throttled by some model of control we generate through intellect or effort or organization. It is simply too big, too overwhelming. It is a process that can only be lived and discerned spiritually, by the infinite grace of G_d working in us.
And as we are carried along in the flow, we come to realize that we are totally helpless to control or improve the process. The only help we can give is to participate in the movement of His flood in our lives. To swim with His current becomes the only reasonable alternative.
As we give up any hope that we could have brought ourselves this far, or that we can make ourselves any better in our own efforts, we reflect on our lives and see the manifold flows, patterns, and rhythms He has designed for us. We see that we need many things on regular intervals. We need physical exercise a few times a week, rest every day, food a few times a day, water by the hour and oxygen by the minute.
And most importantly, we become convinced that we need the very Spirit of the Living G_d both to inform and provide our next breath… even our next heartbeat.
As He carries us along, His salvation imbues us with gargantuan portions of power to live wonderful lives. But the huge flow of His grace washes away the lingering illusion that we can do any of this on our own. We become fabulously rich in Him, but ever more poor in our own spirits.
Surely this is a mystery. But it is a wonderful mystery. And what is not mysterious is that it is a Good and Powerful G_d working His salvation out in me right here and right now. This, rather than some imperfect human trying to be good enough to be with G_d someday.
The freedom that this brings to our spirits is beyond measure.
Anyone for a swim!?!?