Salvation: Lost and Found

Posted: 06/15/2011 in Church
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A few days ago, I was having some great discussions with some students about a variety of theological topics.  These kids are so hungry for truth, and they don’t really know how to find it. Sometimes they are just told what to believe, and other times their questions are ignored or forgotten.   So I’ve loved these interactions and opportunities to listen and explore who God is with them.

One of the topics a few students began to ask about was whether or not one can lose their salvation. Different traditions have various interpretations this topic, and it was great hearing their hearts and opinions on the matter.  Yesterday, a student found a verse that she thought might add some relevance to the discussion and tasked me to help her figure out what this meant.

So I spent a large part of the day doing a little research, and I thought I would share to my students (and anyone else who would care to know) my findings on 2 Chronicles 30:9.

The verse itself goes like this:

“If you return to the LORD, then your brothers and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will come back to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”

Now this was fun, cuz I got to do a little research to understand what was going on in those verses.  The more you start to understand and study the Word, this one phrase will help you out sooo much: “Context is key”.

Basically, that means that sometimes we like to interpret things about the Bible that the authors never meant to have happen.  So we have to look at the whole message of the text to understand what was going on.  So let’s look at everything going on in 2 Chronicles 30 to get a better picture.

What’s Going On? Israel is split into two nations, Israel in the north and Judah in the south.  Most of 2 Chronicles is about Judah, and Judah has had a whole bunch of pretty bad kings up to this point.  They put idols in the temple, stopped observing the holidays, and one king even shut down the temple (basically saying that nobody could worship God anymore… not good).

Who’s Involved? Then King Jehoshaphat (sweet name!) comes along.  He’s a good, noble king who loves the Lord.  He tried to bring Judah back to a nation that served God.  So he reopened the temple, and then he also tried to get people to observe the holidays, including Passover (one of the most important holidays of the nation).

The Main Message: When Judah got a couple bad kings, they began to turn away from God.  They became involved in idol worship and ignoring God’s presence.  The text never says that God leaves them.  It actually says in 2 Chronicles 29:8 that “the wrath of the LORD was against Judah and Jerusalem, and He has made them an object of terror, of horror, and of hissing, as you see with your own eyes”.  This means that because God’s people turned away from him, he no longer gave them the blessings or favor he promised.  He never leaves them, but there are consequences for the sins and decisions they made.

The image of  “God’s face” is a very important symbol in this culture (Numbers 6:24-26).  It was important to have “God’s face” shining towards you. If God’s face was upon you, it meant that God was blessing you and giving you favor.  If God turned his face away from you, it meant that he wasn’t very happy with you and stopped blessing you.

In 2 Chronicles 30:9, that image of God’s face is used.  It says that God “will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”  So if you read that knowing what “God’s face” means, we can see that God will give his blessings again if the people from Judah returned to God.

So here are things we can know from this text:
1.) God is compassionate, gracious, and forgiving.
2.) Even when the Judeans completely disobeyed God, he never left them.
3.) God gets angry at our sin.
4.) When we do sin or fall away, God wants us to return to him.

Here are things that aren’t clear from this text:
1.) We don’t know if God’s promise of blessing to Judah when they returned to him is a promise for everyone.  In fact, God never said anything there.  Jehoshaphat spoke that promise because he knows God’s character of compassion and grace.  But his compassion and grace might look different in other situations.
2.) We don’t know if this has anything to do with salvation and whether or not we can lose it, but this is a good verse to reference.  It tells us about God’s character, which we can use to determine what we think about salvation.

…so that’s all I’ve got.  I know this is a whole lot of stuff, hopefully it’s been helpful and informative. If any other students have verses that seem unclear, I would love to walk through the fog with you.  Keep exploring and navigating the Scriptures. What God has to share is absolutely amazing when we learn to understand all he has to share with us.

Grace and peace.

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