The Fiddler on the Roof was a wonderful story about a lovable character named Tevye. He has daughters and the story cycles around the challenges to Tevye’s Jewish traditions. In the musical there are a number of songs. There is one that expresses what probably everybody has at one time or another thought about and that is “If I were a rich man.” It is sung as sort of a prayer or conversation with God and Tevye muses about his life if he were rich. We probably express the same longings when we sigh, “If only I’d win the lottery!” The closing stanza of that song read;
“Lord who made the lion and the lamb,
You decreed I should be what I am.
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan?
If I were a wealthy man.”
Well, the truth is, for the believer in Christ Jesus, God does have a vast eternal plan for us which includes incomparable riches and blessings that make wealth here pale by comparison. In fact there is no comparison for the wealth of this world is transient and ultimately empty. Jesus warned about the danger of the love of money and in Mt.6:19-21 cautioned;
““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
So today, I close this three part series. The first part we took a look at the question, “Saved FROM what?” and saw the inevitable condemnation and horrors of hell that await all those outside of Christ. Last week, in Pt.2, we answered the question, “Saved BY what?” in which we saw how both the LIFE and DEATH of Jesus was needed to atone for our sins and clothe us in His righteousness. So today we want to consider the final question, “Saved FOR what?”
We begin where we left off last week. Christ was out substitute in living a perfectly sinless life which fulfilled the demands of the Covenant of Works, and He was our substitute in death, taking upon Himself all the sins and punishment of all those He came to save. But for all of that to take effect, Christ had to rise from the dead. The resurrection was proof that God the Father had accepted all that Christ had accomplished on our behalf. Because just as His death was the payment for sin, so was His resurrection the certification and vindication of that payment. “The resurrection was the great vindication of Christ, that the Father had approved of His work, that it was completed, and that there was no more penalty left to pay, no more wrath left to bear, and that sin and death could no longer lay legal claim to Him.”
Not only was Christ raised from the dead but He also ascended to glory, to reign forever. Eph.1:19b-20 reads;
“That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”
Christ now reigns and is our eternal mediator and High Priest who makes intercession for His children. Having completed His work and our salvation He has sat at the right hand of the Father. So, This brings us to ask, “Saved FOR what?” To answer we start in Ephesians 1:18;
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
What is this “glorious inheritance” the Apostle speaks of? It is indeed vast and eternal and so beyond what we can even describe. We see God’s vast eternal plan in the following 3 sets of Scripture and they are so profound because they bring us onto holy ground before the Sovereignty of God. It takes us from our election, Ch.1:4-6;
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
all the way to our exaltation Ch.2:6-7;
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
And Peter writes in his first letter, Ch.1:3-5;
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”
In the first verses Paul is looking back to where it all began, “before the creation of the world,” in the heart and mind of God. God elects and predestines according to His will and pleasure. He randomly chooses whom He will to place His love upon. There is nothing in us, nothing we do or say, either as a person or a nation that makes us acceptable to God. This was the case for Israel. In Deut.7 we read;
“The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
7 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you…”
What makes us acceptable starts here-God chose to love us. That was an act of His divine will-period. That sovereign choice did not arise from His foreknowledge, but rather He foreknew because He had planned it. To say choosing rests in His foreknowledge makes His sovereignty re-active, He must respond because of something outside of Himself, something we did. If it were based in foreknowledge we would have chosen God then He would have chosen us. That is counter to Jesus’ own words, You have not chosen me but I have chosen you,” and it also robs sovereignty of its meaning. Sovereignty is proactive; “He works all things according to the counsel of His will…” Likewise, Isa.46:10;
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’
This is sovereignty at work; Rom.9:14-16;
“What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”
And in speaking of being children of God, John emphasizes in Jn.1:13 we are;
“children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Part of our inheritance is being adopted as Children of God from before the foundation of the world. God has laid claim upon a people in Christ. And Christ said, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” And Believer, as a child of God in Christ, your inheritance is secure.
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ..”
Co-heirs with Christ! Our inheritance is as secure as Christ is true!
So secure that…
In the second set of verses Paul is telling believers that, in God’s eyes, we have already been raised with Christ to glory and are considered to be seated with Him in glory! That’s God’s unalterable will and purpose for His children.
In the third set, Peter speaks of the quality of our inheritance in superlatives. It can never perish, spoil or fade, guarded by the shield of God’s power, until we actually experience it in His presence. So secure is our inheritance that Eph.1:13-14 states;
“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
Once the Holy Spirit opens our spiritual eyes and births faith in us, we respond and believe with all our heart that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we “accepted Christ into our hearts as we say. Titus 3:4-6 states;
“he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Once we believe, we are heirs to an inheritance. And the Holy Spirit in us is also the mark that we belong to and are claimed by God. The Holy Spirit in us guarantees our inheritance is secure until the day of redemption.
Since God in Christ, has undertaken to save His children, every aspect of that salvation is accomplished in Christ who saves completely. We see this in Col.12;
“giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”
Notice it is God who qualifies us! The word, qualifies, means to “render fit” or “make sufficient.” God does that because we are in Christ by faith and it is Christ’s work that qualifies us as we saw last week. This is all of grace to us!
No wonder the Psalmist praises (115:1), "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory." Saving faith is a resting in that sovereign work of Christ, past, present, and future, which gives all glory to God!
Our salvation is secure from beginning to end. But there is something deeper yet in the answer to the question, “Saved FOR what?”
Yes, there is a Kingdom awaiting. We will reign in the New Heavens and the New earth. But the ultimate answer is much more personal. To understand it we start with 2 Cor.5:17;
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Faith unites us to Christ and starts a transformation. The believer is given a new heart, new desires which are God’s desires, he begins to think God’s thoughts, and embraces a new purpose which aligns with God’s purpose. It is a new creative act of God just as He spoke creation into existence, saying, “Let there be…” Just as He breathed breath into Adam and he became a living being. So through the Spirit, God moves and we are born again! The transformation has begun.
2 Cor.3:18 makes clear this transformation is a continuing process;
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
As we yield to the Spirit within he proceeds to mold us and make us more and more into the image of Christ. Some may feel this is too much to ask of us, to be like Christ. William Temple used to illustrate the point this way:
“It is no good giving me a play like Hamlet or King Lear, and telling me to write a play like that. Shakespeare could do it; I can’t. And it is no good showing me a life like the life of Jesus and telling me to live a life like that. Jesus could do it; I can’t. But if the genius of Shakespeare could come and live in me, then I could write plays like his. And if the Spirit of Jesus could come and live in me, then I could live a life like His.”
God understands our limitations! That is why He gave us the Holy Spirit. What does Peter remind us of in Ch.1:3;
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
This is why the Scriptures tell us in Eph.3 to live a Christlike life.
“ to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Believer in Christ you were created, predestined, and are being transformed to be like Christ Jesus!
Our transformation is necessary for, as Christ is the second or last Adam, He is restoring the relationship with God that the first Adam lost. Christ is the head and representative of a new humanity created in Him to have eternal fellowship with God. Christ reverses the curse. Whereas Adam was driven from the garden away from the tree of life, we read in Rev.22:13-14;
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”
Christ reverses the effects of the Fall for believers! Now the gates are opened and there is access to the tree of life. That’s what we are saved for!
And the final aspect of this transformation will be our complete union with Christ as 1 Jn.3:2 points out;
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
We shall be like Him! By His power, as it states in Phil.3:21;
“will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
This is what God purposed before creation;
Rom.8:29 states we have been “predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His son…” This is what we have been saved for, TO BE LIKE HIM to the glory of God!
Then we will be like Him - glorious and imperishable,
Then we will be like Him - undefiled, holy and sinless in thought, word or deed.
Then we will be like Him - having unfading, immortal glory
Then we will be like Him - Blessed with every spiritual blessing as Co-heirs with Christ.
Then we will be like Him - As He is "the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys,”so we shall be!
Then we will be like Him - Our human nature shall be rid of all its rags and we shall be perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect!
Then we will be like Him -
All this “to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the beloved,” Christ Jesus!
These are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…!
“If I were a rich man?”
This is God’s vast, eternal plan that makes us richer than we can comprehend! We shall be like Him! To the praise and glory of God!
THIS IS WHAT WE ARE SAVED FOR!