The rooftop helicopter rescue. You’ve seen it in the movies.
Our heroes are trapped on a rooftop, needing rescue. A helicopter lowers a rope and our heroes jump to it and hang on. The helicopter veers away, our heroes dangling precariously from the rope. As dramatic music plays, the helicopter flies above the burning city. At any moment, our heroes may collide with a burning building, but the pilot is skilled. Very skilled. Our heroes are saved.
That’s Romans 5.10.
For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Somehow, we need to rescue salvation. Because it’s got stuck in the past, and for some, it’s losing its power. Stuck in the past? Well, yes, stuck in the past. Two thousand years ago.
We’ve all preached the gospel and heard the gospel. Christ died for sins, once for all. It’s as familiar and as comfortable as an old sweater. In fact, it’s so familiar that we sometimes forget how it comes across.
We have a sin problem. To fix it, Christ died around two thousand years ago. We trust in Christ, and are saved. Job done. The thing is, the Bible never presents salvation as some kind of one-time fix-it. It’s far more nuanced. It’s richer and deeper and is not offered to counter our fears. Sometimes I think believers are terrified of the bad place and salvation’s primary role is to calm our fears that we’ll end up there.
Phew. I avoided something terrible.
Biblical salvation, however, is about a lot more than avoiding judgement. If we see it or present it primarily in terms of avoiding a certain fate, our church members will remain stuck back in Palestine, clinging to a Roman cross two thousand years ago.
To all intents and purposes, they will stay dead.
They need resurrection. Resurrection. Every day.
In Romans 5.10, Paul leads us to life. He doesn’t leave us at the cross, but completes the story, ending with life. We’re taught that Christ saves us through his life. Reconciled by his death, yes, but saved by his life. How fascinating. We tend to say that Christ saves us by his death, but here, Paul’s focus is on Christ’s resurrected life.
As a glorified Saviour, he saves his people. He is the helicopter pilot who holds us securely as we go through the dangers of the world. Each and every day, we are being saved by the immense power and faithfulness of the resurrected Son of God. That’s about our daily lives and his faithfulness to live in us.
Live in us.
It doesn’t get more Pauline than that. We have a profound spiritual connection with our Saviour. His letter to the Galatians comes to mind.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
So, a word to the wise. Never let your people think of salvation as a one-time “avoid judgement” experience. It is so much more than that.
It is about life. It is about Christ living within us, experiencing the power of his resurrection within us as we face the challenges of life. As we live to bring him glory each and every day.
For this we are saved. Saved for, not just saved from.
Saved for the purpose of bringing God glory.
Saved and held by our living Lord who rules the heavens.
Saved each day by our helicopter pilot whose connection with us is absolutely secure. Though the city burns all around us, his power holds us securely.
To his glory.