The Bible In 12 Words - 10 Salvation Sermon
The verb "save" in both Hebrew and Greek, the languages of the Old Testament and the New, means "to heal and make whole." Salvation does not point to a place "out there," but to a place "in here," in the human heart. It is also not a particular moment in time, but a continual process of being loved, forgiven, and restored to the image God has always had for us in Christ. The Kingdom of God, also called the Kingdom of Heaven is God's gift to us. Our Spirit-filled work of building it in place to place is our gift to God. Eternal life is not a quantity of life (years and years on a cloud somewhere) but a quantity of life that is defined by our love for God and for our neighbors.
The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) tell the story of salvation in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Each one is unique in its composition, language, audience, and particular purpose, and for that reason, if the story were a song, it would be sung by a quartet, not a soloist.
We think of Eternal Life, if we think of it at all, as what happens when life ends. We would do better to think of it as what happens when life begins.
St. Paul uses the phrase Eternal Life to describe the end and goal of the process of salvation. Elsewhere he writes the same thing in a remarkable sentence where he says the whole purpose of God's slogging around through the muck of history and of our own individual histories is somehow to prod us, jolly us, worry us, cajole us, and if need be bludgeon us into reaching "...the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:13)
In other words to live Eternal Life in the full and final sense is to be with God as Christ is with him, and with each other as Christ is with us.
From Wishful Thinking by Frederick Buechner 1973
The Cliffnotes version of the Gospel is John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
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