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Doctrine Illuminated: The Way of Salvation (7min read)

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In these Doctrine Illuminated articles, the core beliefs of Addison Street Community Church are fleshed out in more detail. Begin by examining the section of the Doctrinal Confession, found at the top, and then discover an explanation of each of its lines below.



Section 7. The Way of Salvation. 
"We believe that the salvation of sinners is by grace alone, through the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and our Mediator. Obeying the will of the Father, he freely took upon himself our human nature, yet without sin. He honored the divine law by his personal obedience, and made atonement for our sins by his death. He rose bodily from the dead and is now enthroned in heaven where he intercedes for us as our all-sufficient savior."

If you’ve ever been in a deeply troublesome situation when there was absolutely no way for you to help yourself out, then you know what it’s like to need salvation—that is, for someone to save you. In a much more severe sense, all humans don’t just need saving from a challenging worldly predicament but saving from the warranted wrath of God. In this section of the confession, we explore the way that people can experience this great salvation.

"We believe that the salvation of sinners is by grace alone."

The simple fact about salvation is that there are no other beings for God to save than sinners. Humans need it because humans have sinned and therefore incurred upon themselves God’s wrath (see Psalm 53:1-3). The apostle Paul states the remedy very simply: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8, ESV). Therefore, if you recognize your sin and need of saving, then don’t try to save yourself, but believe in his gracious provision of the savior, Jesus.

"[Salvation is] through the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and our Mediator."

But how exactly do you get this grace? Through the death of Jesus Christ. One of the greatest aspects of our salvation is that we were reconciled, or brought back, to God. How? Through Christ’s death. Paul says it very succinctly: “…while we were [God’s] enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10, ESV). So, if you have been saved, then thank God for the crucifixion of his Son. Salvation is free to you but cost God everything.
 

"Obeying the will of the Father, he freely took upon himself our human nature, yet without sin."

Only someone who is without sin is fit to save sinners. It would have been useless for someone with sin to attempt to be the savior because he himself would still need saving. Therefore, Jesus became like us in every way so that he can sympathize with our weaknesses, “yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15). In serving us as our perfect High Priest, Christ also served his Father—for it was the Father’s will that he obeyed. So, go to your savior in times of temptation, because he can sympathize with you and provide you with his own saving strength to remain faithful through it.

"He honored the divine law by his personal obedience, and made atonement for our sins by his death."

If someone is under God’s perfect law, then to remain perfectly holy they need to obey it in its entirety. But it takes no time at all to look around and see how all people have disobeyed God’s perfect law—chiefly by not loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. So, Jesus came to be the perfect example of joyful obedience to God’s law. He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). And that he did. He obeyed perfectly, and by his atoning death on the cross, he gives believers his perfect righteousness. He took our place as a substitute: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). So, if you’re righteous in God’s sight, then why wouldn’t you pursue living righteously right now? It would simply be living in line with your true identity.

"He rose bodily from the dead and is now enthroned in heaven where he intercedes for us as our all-sufficient savior."

One of the undervalued or overlooked aspects of the good news is that he is now seated in heaven at the right hand of his Father where he rules as King of all. And it is said that Christ—almighty God himself—is the one who lives to intercede for us, his people (see Hebrews 7:25-27). What a glorious and comforting reality. “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). Our savior doesn’t just give us salvation and tell us to hang on to it for dear life. No, he continues to intercede for us and keeps us in the palm of his hand until that great day of salvation when he comes back to finally and fully save his church.
 

The simple gospel is that Jesus Christ died for sinners—to save them from the wrath of God and to save them back into a relationship with himself. What a savior we have in Jesus!

 

Don't Waste Your Quarantine

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At the time of this writing, the state of Illinois has at least 5 more weeks to shelter-in-place from the devastation of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19.  If this news is sinking in to the point of panic and desperation, you should really call someone. Don't try to deal with the shock and languishing alone. Don't be too proud to ask for help like a meal. Even roped off from each other like this, we can still hold through this both as humans and as a Christian community. Don't let yourself be lost to others. 

There are a myriad of ideas that you can find for occupying your time just by scrolling through your social media or doing some simple searches or even watching the news. I won't intrude on those ideas. I'm more interested though in what's happening to your soul and how you're handling what seems to be "more" time. 

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

(Ephesians 5:15–16 ESV)

  1. Draw closer to God, and he will draw closer to you. He isn't as far off as you may think. God isn't a divine patrolman only monitoring what you're doing. Though he knows, he's near because of relationship. There is intimacy to be hand with the Almighty that you don't yet know about it. Give him the time of day, and you'll see.

  2. Pay attention to what you pay attention to. More on this below, but "mind your head" (as they say in the UK). If you don't make a plan for how you're going to use your time and your screens, you'll likely give in to almost anything that comes across your mental table. Plan breaks against and from distractions. Just because the walls seem to be closing in on you, doesn't mean they actually are. Redeem the time has the idea of buying it back. Make time your servant. Boredom doesn't have to fought. It can be plainly avoided. Schedule more rest time while God is allowing this forced Sabbath. But don't think for a second that God's Law is cooped up in a box somewhere (like we are). His rules stand fast even during this difficult time. Be renewed in the spirit of your minds (Ephesians 4:24).

  3. Draw closer to one another. This almost goes without saying. There seems to be more time so that we can casually re-connect or dive deeper with family and friends. While everyone might be living the introvert's dream these days, we cannot be relationally isolated. Don't wait for someone to reach out to you (as if they owed you). For older people, this may be a good time to fumble around with the technologies to get closer to the younger people in your family or church. For younger people, it could very well be therapeutic to your 'system' to write a short card or letter to a relative or an older person in the church. God knew that his image-bearers at this point in history would be going through this global quarantine. His image in us is resilient enough to still reflect the radiance of relationships. Go for it!

  4. Question yourself before you post. While there's alot of good stuff out there being produced around the clock, there's that doubly more junk to sift through. Junk in the sense of morally reprehensible or questionable, but 'junk' in the sense of time wasting. I thank God especially for trash collectors these days, but can you imagine what would happen if they stopped coming by? We don't really have internet trash collectors (thanks, Freedom of Speech!), so you've got to do your own filtering. Be rigorously discriminating. In addition to the verse quote above, how about the one below? Ask yourself if it's really worth it to post whatever it is you feel like post. Give yourself a limit. Remember: other people are either going to be bettered or potentially battered by it.

This quarantine isn't to be wasted. Make the most of it. Ask someone to hold you accountable for the next 5 weeks. if the last five have been a wash, then, suit up! Go to war and have fun!

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

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