While flying to Southeast Asia recently, I found myself enamored by the glory of God put on display outside my window. Getting a window seat while flying is always a spiritual experience for me. In that moment I get to see the world from a perspective that human beings have only been able to attain in the last century. I am made to feel very small and God’s majesty becomes so evidently beyond my comprehension. As we passed over the Alaskan mountain range covered in snow Psalm 145 came to mind.
Psalm 145:3-5 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works I will meditate.
So much divine design went into the creation of those mountains. The freezing of water molecules, the weather phenomena of snow, the raised mountains placed against the bright blue background of a clear sky, the crystal-clear rivers running through the valleys and the lush forests of trees filled with wildlife. All of this came together for a dazzling display of God’s majesty – just one scene in one location on one planet in the vastness of God’s created universe and it all flows from the eternal creativity and beauty of God himself.
As I gazed down at those mountains, I was preparing for a teaching that I would soon be doing in Southeast Asia on the doctrine of salvation. It occurred to me that the God who created those mountains below is the same God that designed, accomplished, and applied salvation to my own soul. He ordained the incarnation, the righteous life of Jesus, the sin-atoning death of Christ, the grave-defeating resurrection, and the Holy-Spirit-indwelling salvation for all God’s people. Just like those mountains were designed for a grand display of God’s glory, he designed the way in which he would save sinners to be so glorious that we would all together say, “His greatness is unsearchable.” The accomplishment and application of our salvation cannot be reduced to one simple act in which we are forgiven when we believe in Jesus. Salvation is no less than that, of course, but salvation is far more than that. Just like the Alaskan mountain range cannot be described using only one color or shape, the doctrine of salvation cannot be described with only one element at the expense of missing the glory of its divine design.
When a man is forgiven of his sin and gifted eternal life, he is the product of a plan that began from eternity past in God’s election. He is the product of God’s powerful and present work in calling the sinner to saving faith and repentance. Upon salvation, he is transformed into a new creation through the washing of regeneration. He goes from old to new, from death to life, and from spiritually blind to beholding God’s glory. In a moment, he is fully justified before God; declared innocent in his sight. He is adopted into God’s eternal family as a son. He begins the process of sanctification, in which he increasingly becomes more holy, growing to better reflect God’s image to the world. In that sanctification process he will continue to persevere until the very end and by God’s powerful and sustaining hand the sinner will one day be glorified forever in the presence of God with no sin or corruption found within him. The doctrine of our great forgiveness applied, confirmed, and eternally established for us is a glorious mountain range of grand and glorious design and it is on these wondrous works of splendor and majesty that we should meditate regularly. The doctrine of salvation is simple enough for a child yet deep enough that the most learned theologian could not reach the depths of its riches in a lifetime of study. After God saves us from our sin, we will forever grow to know more deeply what happened to us and, as we increase in the depths of our understanding, we increase in the heights of our worship.
In the coming days, I hope to post several articles for our church family to help them meditate upon God’s wondrous works in the different elements of our salvation. It is my prayer that these will help sharpen our understanding, strengthen our evangelism efforts, and enrich our worship.