Saved from Self for Service


John Stott is the man.

I just finished reading Christian Mission in the Modern World by John Stott. It is a compilation of lectures given at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, back in 1975. He interprets the meaning of five very important words:

  1. Mission
  2. Evangelism
  3. Dialogue
  4. Salvation
  5. Conversion

Salvation is more than we can know.

I went back this morning and read one of his sections on salvation after listening to the <a href=”http://www.fellowshipnashville.org/media/messages/weekend-messages/”>sermon from Fellowship Bible Church two weeks back on Luke 4:31-44 titled “Authority and Power”</a>…and I just had to share it.

Stott defines salvation as personal freedom consisting of three freedom-from-freedom-for parts:

  1. Past: Freedom from Judgment for Sonship -> Justification
  2. Present: Freedom from Self for Service -> Sanctification
  3. Future: Freedom from Decay for Glory ->  Glorification

While I would love to just type out the entire chapter, I’ll just share the part has rattled me the most. This is from his section on present salvation:

Freedom from Self for Service

We turn now to the present phase of salvation. For salvation in the New Testament is as much a present process as a gift received in the past. If you ask me if I am saved, and if I think biblically before I answer, I could just as truly reply “no” as “yes”. Yes, I have indeed been saved by the sheer grace of God from His wrath and from my guilt and condemnation. But no, I am not yet saved, for sin still dwells within me and my body is not yet redeemed. It is the common tension in the New Testament between the “now” and the “not yet”.

In this present salvation too we should emphasize the positive. We are being delivered from the bondage of self-centeredness into the liberty of service. Jesus spoke of our being the slaves of sin, anda there is no slavery worse than imprisonment in oneself. Luther described fallen man as “homo in se incurvatus,” “man curved or bent inward upon himself.” From this prison Jesus Christ liberates us. He warns us that if we insist on “saving” ourselves, holding on to our own life in selfishness, we shall lose ourselves. By contrast, only if we are prepared to lose ourselves by giving ourselves away in service to him and to others, shall we ever truly find ourselves (Mark 8:35). It is only when we die that we live, only when we serve that we are free.

This present salvation, this liberation from the shackles of our own self-centeredness into the freedom of service, brings more thoroughgoing demands than we are often prepared to recognize. To quote from the Lausanne Covenant again, “the results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into His church and responsible service to the world” (para. 4). Unless we are truly delivered from a slavish conformity to tradition, convention, and bourgeois materialism of secular culture, unless our discipleship is radical enough to make us critical of establishment attitudes and indignant over all forms of oppression, and unless we are now freely and selflessly devoted to Christ, church, and society, we can hardly claim to be saved, or even be in the process of being saved. Salvation and the kingdom of God are synonymous (cf. Mark 10:23-27), and in the kingdom the authority of Jesus is absolute.

In case you missed it, “…and in the kingdom the authority of Jesus is absolute.” He is King, immortal, invisible, God only wise. He is Savior and He is Lord. Do we live under His authority?

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