Every Christian knows that personal acceptance of Jesus’ death on the cross is the entrance to eternal life. Most sermons focus exclusively on the cross, as if that’s all there is, as if our spiritual life was unimportant in comparison. But there’s more.
In my last blog I told how God led my friend down a path to total submission in the last days of her life. Why was that important, since God knew she was going to die anyway, and had already accepted Jesus?
I also see God working not only with myself but with many others as well, drawing us to greater trust, submission, and peace in this life. If all we need is the cross, why this emphasis on life here and now?
In the Bible the cross is certainly a central piece. But our life on earth is also central. Jesus’ life is chronicled in the Gospels even more than His death. Paul spends a lot of time correcting wrong theology and helping people know how to live their lives. The Old Testament stories and warnings were written to show us how to live, as examples for us and “for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come (1 Cor 10:11).
The Cross begins what God wants to do for us, but He doesn’t stop there.
Exodus 36-40 describes the tabernacle in the wilderness, built under God’s explicit directions. This tabernacle is actually His “sandbox model” for helping His people understand how He works with us.
Ex 40:1-8 shows the layout.
- The courtyard held the altar of burnt offerings, where the priests sacrificed.
- The Holy Place contained the lamp, the table of showbread, and the altar of incense.
- The Most Holy place was where the ark of the Testimony, and God’s visible glory resided.
Hebrews 8:5 says the earthly priests “serve the copy and shadow of heavenly things.” Each part of the earthly tabernacle represents something God has done or is doing for us.
The sacrifice in the courtyard . . .
. . .obviously symbolizes Jesus’ death on the cross.
The Holy Place . . .
. . . represents God’s work in our hearts. Often the blood of the sacrifice was taken into the Holy Place and sprinkled on the floor there. Jesus was sacrificed only once, but He now applies the blood of His sacrifice to us, forgiving our sins when we confess them (1 John 1:9).. He has sent the Holy Spirit, represented by the lampstand, to help us live now. And we take Jesus into our heart and life as shown by the bread and grape juice on the table of showbread.
This is now how we live now – forgiven, nourished by Jesus, led by the Spirit. This is the second part of how God wants to save us – not only for all eternity, but for the here and now.
And it’s happening! People are experiencing peace in the midst of their storms, hope in the midst of devastating circumstances, victory over sin! God not only gives us the gift of salvation for the future, but also the gift of salvation for this life.
Acts 2:47 says it well: in the beginning of the Christian church God “added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Here the word “saved” in Greek shows ongoing action, not a one-time action. God has already saved us (one-time action on the cross), and He is saving us now (in our daily life).
How God enables us to live in this life is as much a saving action as Jesus’ death on the cross. It reveals His ongoing creative transforming power and His abundant grace and mercy.
Eternal life begins as soon as we accept Jesus. Our life on earth is preparation for heaven. That makes our spiritual life — our prayer life, relationship with God, etc., — the most important priority we have.
Please share some ways God is in the process of saving you in daily life.