Following are excerpts from an article in the most recent issue of “Unsearchable Riches” magazine. This is actually an article written many years ago by Mr. Gelesnoff, one of the founders of the magazine. Any wishing to subscribe to “Unsearchable Riches” can find information at www.Concordant.org This is, in my opinion, the best in-depth Bible study publication available.
In Ephesians 3:11 the phrase occurs, “in accord with the purpose of the eons, which He makes in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”
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The phrase is fraught with deep meaning; it indicates that God, through the eons, is prosecuting a certain work, in pursuance to a prearranged, definite plan.
The prevalent idea among Christians is virtually the same as if God had no plan at all.
Now, since those whom God foreknew were designated to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29), and since such conformity is only realized in resurrection, it is evident that man was to attain Christ-likeness by a process of development and testing. During this process, man would do so under certain restrictions, exercising his volition in response to God’s revealed commands.
We hear on every hand about “conditions” of salvation: theology loudly proclaims that man’s salvation rests entirely on himself; that there are certain rules to be complied with in order to be saved; that God has done what He could, made man’s salvation possible; and if man will repent and do many other things he will be saved; otherwise, not.
The colossal error roots itself in a misapprehension of salvation, and of God’s work. The work of God … is to conform man to the image of God’s Son. This is the task which God proposed to Himself, and He alone is responsible for its attainment.
And now the question arises, What is salvation? The Scriptures answer that salvation is life – life from the dead. The Bible represents man in Adam as dead, having no life in him. When we here speak of “life,” we mean physical existence, yet Scripture does not recognize mere physical existence as life.
Physically (man) is active; figuratively, he is dead. Hence the mission of Christ was to bring life to the world.
Fallen man is not only guilty, needing justification, or sinful, needing cleansing; he is dead, needing life, and anything short of that is vain, futile. Salvation, then, is life for a dead race.
He (Christ) comes to bring life; He is our life, as He Himself declares: “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Salvation is the consummation of creation, the impartation of life to a dead race, thus bringing them finally to His image; and this work depends solely on God.
All that man does has to do with his training, development, instruction; his final salvation – his entrance into life – in no sense or degree depends on what he does. The end is fixed and settled in the immutable purpose of God, and all will ultimately be vivified in Christ, as surely and unconditionally as all have died in Adam.
The misconceptions that many entertain on this subject arise from their religious training, and not from the teaching of the Bible. In current evangelical theology salvation is conceived of as nothing more than escape from the penalty of sin – (supposedly) the scorching fires of hell. In order to effect this escape, man must do certain things, thereby securing to his own credit the merit which properly accrues alone to Christ.