The Impossiblity of Salvation

In the latter parts of the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the church of Corinth, he writes perhaps one of the profoundest statements I have come across: “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;” (1v.27)

There is something very comforting from that verse which resonates with me so much. I have never professed to be strong, my want for strength is perhaps embodied in the amount of Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts I own, but I digress. There was a post running on revelife the other day that was titled, “Christianity: A Crutch For The Weak”, I cannot say I had a read of it, but I might when I finish this post. The image of a crutch is one of support for an injury, a leg-up above our present condition as you would have it.

Yet I find it somewhat lacking, my reply when people say that is, Christianity is nothing like a crutch for the weak, it is a revival of the dead. There is a fantastic passage in Ezekiel 37 which talks of the life being born into dead bones. God asks Ezekiel the question, ““Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.”” (Ezekiel 37:3). There is something strikingly similar when Jesus begins His ministry and He calls Philip who finds Nathaniel “Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”” John 1:46 (English Standard Version)

In both, there is an element of impossibility in the intonation of the words. Where the dead bones were emptied of life, Nazareth as well was emptied of all intelligence as it would seem. When applied to the impossibility of salvation, it becomes something of a miraculous event, not only that a totally new creation is born. But moreover, the weak and not the strong would be rescued from their sins which have caused them to be dead, life out of bones with no intelligence of their own.

Why God would use the weak is explained in the subsequent verses in 1 Corinthians 1, “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1:29) The Greek, καυχάομαι/kauchaomai translated boast, means literally to speak loudly. The fact of the matter is that God does speak loudly, whether through words or His creation. He chooses the weakest, so as His power and glory is amplified greater in all the earth, because a man might die for his fellow brother if he was good, but only a truly altruistic man would die for someone bad.

God chooses the weakest, much along the reasoning that the weak themselves understand how dead in their transgressions they are, and how much in need of God they are. So much so, that only the dead would know how far God has brought them, and how much change has occurred within their heart. Jesus came as a Great Doctor to those who are sick and need healing, not those who are well in their own eyes. To be weak is to acknowledge we need God, and God will surely answer those who ask for him truly.

 

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God and Wealth

“And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.'”
– Mark 10:23-25 (English Standard Version)

“One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”
– Acts 16:14 (ESV)

First, it is interesting that Lydia is mentioned by name in the Scripture where she most likely was not the only individual to be saved in by the apostles in that area. Where it is rendered “purple goods” in the ESV could refer to Lydia being a seller of either purple dye or purple cloth or silk. Purple was the color of royalty and the higher class in Roman society because of their rarity and the expensive means required to obtain it. Therefore, we could infer that she was a rich woman. She sold clothing to the rich people, probably made a bit of money from that, and lived quite comfortably. So it’s pretty much like that Louis Vuitton shop that I walked into recently.

Notice that the two phrases side by side that Lydia was a worshiper of God and a seller of purple goods. She held these two titles at the same time, both as a purveyor of purple goods to the wealthy and a humble worshiper of God. It’s amazing that she could tread that thin line between living for God as well as her business to serve the wealthy. It seems so easy for Lydia to have seen the big bright lights of the world and be attracted to it like a moth to the flame. I remember I thought I used to be strong enough around friends to see them drunk and stoned. I thought I was strong enough to resist it, but in reality I am just as depraved as them and often act contrary to a true worshiper.

Sure, it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, but with God, the impossible is possible. The reality is that it is not just hard for rich. It’s hard for the proud, it is hard for the haughty, it is hard for the selfish, it is hard for the licentious, it is hard for the liars, it is hard for the slanderous etc.