by Daniel Jacobson
This is the root of salvation, the foundation of the Christian Faith…
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
We love God because he is worthy. We love others because it is the right thing to do.
Jesus was without sin. Jesus is God. (Part of the trinity, yes but still God.) If you look at all the descriptions of the fruits of the spirit and the works of the flesh, you can get a very good outline of the character of God. It is one of true love. Not wishy-washy let people walk all over you kind of love but 1 Corinthians 13 Love.
The kind of love that puts others needs over one’s own. The kind of love that caused God to come down and take the punishment each one of us deserves on the cross so every person could have a way to have a relationship with God.
Our sins separate us from God. God is so pure that he hates sin, yet his love for us was so great that he took our sin on himself, and took the punishment for our sin on himself.
However, if I stopped there it would appear that everyone gets to go to heaven, but that is not the case.
I will not go into detail on this but because of Adam’s sin in the Garden; sin is upon all of us. We are all sinners by birth and by choice. Sinfulness is selfishness, putting me first, not caring how it affects anyone else. Everything is about me. That is a short description but it is the opposite of Godly Love (Agape).
At some time in everyone’s life, the Holy Spirit presents himself to a person. When that happens (usually through preaching but that is a very different topic I am not going into here) that person understands God’s holiness (no sin) and realizes his own sinfulness. The issue becomes, does the individual see God as holy, his character something to be desired, or does he choose to reject that holiness.
Salvation is not about what’s in it for the one saved, but rather does one want to have a relationship with a Holy God, and live a life that is honoring to God. Does he/she think that the character qualities outlined in scriptures as good, is the way he wants to live.
Salvation is from the power of sin to the ability to (via the power of the Holy Spirit of God) to live a life as outlined in scriptures.
Heaven is where God lives. I don't think many people would like to go to hell but if they reject God, they aren’t going to like Heaven much either, because that is where God is and sin isn’t.
Because of all that, a Christian who is living for God is all about loving others. First the other believers but also the lost. We still have the sin nature so it is a constant fight not to be selfish, but the purpose of being saved is to live the life God outlines one should live. It is not just a Hell Fire escape.
Unfortunately, where I live, I don’t see much evidence of Christians living for others. Moreover, often the salvation message is preached as what’s in it for you, rather than dyeing to self and living for others.
Nothing wrong with looking out for your own interests but:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.