The Covenant and Salvation (1)

Why Do We Need to Study Salvation If We Are Already a Christian?

This fall I am teaching a course entitled, The Covenant and Salvation, and will post read ahead information, study questions, and notes here. I have described the course to folks as looking at the “full scope of salvation.” As (Reformed) Christians, I think we need to rediscover the fact that what God has done, is doing, and will do in our salvation is more than just “Jesus died on the cross for my sins.” I certainly do not want to take anything away from what Christ did on the cross, but having been a Christian for more than forty years now, I find that most Christians really do not get much beyond that. The Apostle Paul, however, told the Corinthians, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen, and if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (1 Cor. 15:13-14). That is a pretty definitive statement. Yet the common tendency among most Protestants toward almost exclusive focus on the cross could theoretically still be true even if Christ were still in the grave–and that most certainly is not the case. Such an exclusive focus also begs the question as how things like the resurrection or the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost relate to the cross. I think for many people it is not exactly clear how all this (and more) ties together.

So, giving a broader perspective is my primary reason for teaching this course, but there is another reason as well and that is because I think we tend to take the Gospel for granted, especially if we have been a Christian for any notable length of time. A mindset can start creeping in of, “Okay, I’ve accepted Christ as Savior; now what?” Too often, we can start looking for something else to add to the Gospel to make it “relevant” to our day and age. The Gospel, though, does not need anything added to it to be relevant. If anything, the Gospel is a radical antithesis to the surrounding culture and that is becoming more apparent as the vestiges of a Christian culture seep away. We should not take the Gospel for granted. For many family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, they do not feel there is anything they need to be saved from, except possibly their own finitude. If we tell them that they need to “get saved” or “to have a personal relationship with Jesus” they are quite likely to respond with, “Huh? Why?” Understanding the different facets involved in our salvation will better equip us to address different misperceptions or misunderstandings that people may have about the Gospel, and therefore be better witnesses for Christ. God willing, it will also help us to treasure the Gospel more ourselves.

The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem

Handouts for Lesson 1:

Handout for Lesson 2

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