Thursday, 23 April 2009

Wall-to-wall Salvation

It's the way they describe a carpet that covers the whole room; wall to wall. All encompassing, you can see nothing but carpet. This is not little patches of carpet or carpet with little patches missing but a comprehensive carpet that leaves nothing uncovered.

As Paul warms to his task in Romans he declares his convictions about the gospel; For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Rom 1:16-17 NKJV We sometimes lose the connection in English but 'believe' and 'faith' are essentially the same word in the form of verb and noun. The gospel then is God's power at work in the life of the 'believer' and the kind of 'faith' he is talking about is 'from faith to faith'; wall-to-wall faith. There are no gaps to be filled with anything else this is comprehensive faith. This salvation commences in faith, it is sustained in faith, it progresses in faith... you get the picture? The just shall live by faith. Not just an initial spurt of faith at a well remembered place or time but by an unbroken flow of faith; wall-to-wall.

Romans is the book where Paul explains how faith operates; So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Rom 10:17 NKJV Faith actually begin with God's initiative. God must speak otherwise there can be no 'hearing' and consequently no 'faith'. When we 'hear' God speak is the moment that we must begin to exercise faith and salvation is the experience of those who believe, and of no others.

Why should God have chosen to work this way? We have the answer again here in Romans; it is of faith that it might be according to grace Rom 4:16 NKJV "Salvation", said David in Psalm 3, "belongs to the LORD." No one can achieve or earn salvation, it can only be given and received. The word the scripture uses to describe a free gift which is neither achieved or earned is the word 'grace'. God wants every man and woman to know salvation but it is his alone to give and God gives it because he wants to. There is a modern TV advert which always provokes me. It advertises a beauty product and ends with the line 'because you're worth it'. Well grace is when God gives us something because we are not 'worth it'. We have done nothing to merit it, we are not 'worth-y'; that's grace.

In the beginning of John's gospel he gives his and our testimony; And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. John 1:16 NKJV That is an unbroken flow of grace, this day's grace replacing yesterday's grace, like a flowing river. Grace too, is wall-to-wall. Grace has no human percentage in it. It is all God's free gift and to make the point crystal clear to men and women God has determined that no human effort or contribution has any part in it. Paul says it is of faith that it might be according to grace Rom 4:16 NKJV It can only be by grace and so can only ever be received by faith, otherwise in some small corner of our consciousness we would be saying 'I'm worth it'.

To begin this life of faith, dependent only upon God's grace, is to begin to pass from shame to glory. As we rely only upon him and keep him as the object of our faith God works a daily miracle in our lives; Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2Cor 3:17-18 NKJV Is this possible? live a life like this? Yes it is, as we daily rely upon his never failing grace, glory will not be in brief patches but glory too will become wall-to-wall.

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