The Amazing Paradox of Salvation and then the Christian Life
In that supernatural and dramatic permanent moment of conversion, yea “the day of salvation,” in which “a time accepted” that Christ “heard thee,” and “succoured thee” (2 Cor 6:2), a number of amazing paradoxes occurred in order for the repentant faith of salvation to be true and life giving. A paradox is a very interesting anomaly. It is a tenet or proposition contrary to received opinion, appearing seemingly absurd or contradictory, yet true in fact. Logically it seems unacceptable or self-contradictory, but the conclusion is true indeed.
The god of this world, Satan, the great deceiver, has blinded and deceived the minds of the people and feeds the lusts of their flesh so as to have them believe that building up riches, material, positions, popularity, hold some value. It’s not true. It’s a very bad and eternally destructive lie. All is vanity. Listen to the richest and wisest human that ever lived: “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” (Ec. 1:14). At best, these “treasures” which encapsulate the heart are that which “moth and dust doth corrupt” and “where thieves break through and steal.” (Matt 6:19).
So then where is the value in those things that never really belonged to you in the first place? What have you accomplished? Do you take it with you when you die? No, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” (1 Tim 6:7). Why not rather “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matt 6:20)? That requires certain things to come to pass and transpire, namely conversion through true repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ at one instantaneous moment in time, and these are reflected in some amazing paradoxes in scripture.
There are more, but let us consider these.
1. To win you must first lose. To win against the King of kings requires losing, and that requires surrendering and submitting to have eternal freedom in His kingdom (Lk 14:25-34) 19:12-27). To have victory (received at salvation), requires repentance. People don’t like to lose. Scripture however says that you’ve got to lose in order to win. In other words, if you can’t lose, you’re not going to win. The Bible magnifies losing.
In Phil 3, Paul in reiterating his conversion, saw losing as a necessity for the ultimate and supreme gain. He wrote: “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Phil 3:7-8). Lose you, win Christ. And Paul was saying something that Jesus had already said, using the same verb (zemioo, lemma ten times in NT), in Matt 16:26, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” in Mk 8:36, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” and in LK 9:25, “For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” I think Paul knew he was using the same kind of talk, the exact word too, that Jesus used. You need to lose in order to win. If you lose your soul or life or self, you gain eternal life. You lose everything for the pearl of great price. Only someone who wants to be saved by Jesus Christ would do this. It is repenting and then believing in Jesus Christ to “count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” So you win everything by losing everything.
2. To have life requires death. To save your life you must first lose your life, which means to die (Matt 10:39; 16:25; Mk 8:35; Lk 9:24; Jn 12:24-25). You have to die first, to have life. Losing life or dying to self, denying self, means to hate your life, dying to your own self, to your ambitions and love of this world and mammon, which then brings life and eternal life (Mk 8:34-37; Jn 12:24-25). “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” (Jn 12:24-25).
Dying or losing your life, occurs taking up the cross, which means to be crucified with Christ, an event that will certainly bring death to self. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal 2:20a). Paul did that at salvation, just like all other saved people. “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.” (Mk 8:34-35). Thus to bear the cross is to wear the crown (Matt 10:38; 16:24; Mk 8:34; Lk 9:23; 14:27). “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (Jam 1:12).
This is the Biblical gospel, the gospel of self-abandonment, but it’s been hijacked in our present world by a counterfeit version, the “gospel” of self-appeasement and sulf-fulfillment.
3. To be exalted by God requires first being brought to the lowest pit and abased, humbled as a little child. Jesus mentions this numerous times (Matt 11:23; 23:12; Lk 14:11; 18:14-17; etc). In Lk 18:14,17 Jesus said, “every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. . . . Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” So the way up is first the way down.
4. To be healed, both perfectly and permanently, requires first to be wounded unto death, broken and contrite to the utmost. “Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” (Lk 20:18). “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” (Ps 34:18). “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Is 57:15). The word “revive” refers to bringing someone to life from the dead. It is a salvation passage, NOT a second blessing one. There are no second blessing or higher life or deeper life or Keswick related passages in Scripture.
5. To be wise we must first become fools. Wisdom in Scripture always refers to the saved while fools always to the lost. “If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise” (1 Cor 3:18).
6. To be first, we must first be last. “So the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matt 20:16). This also refers to salvation.
7. To willingly depart from everything and thus have nothing, is to gain in fact everything (Matt 19:21; Mk 10:21; Lk 18:22). “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” (Mk 10:21). When Peter reflects his and the other apostles salvation (which occurred for at least four of them in Lk 5:1-11), in this very context post-Christ’s conversation with the rich young ruler, he asks “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” (Matt 19:27), to which the Lord answers: “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matt 19:29). Losing everything, including family, gains everything. And what is it that we have that we haven’t received to begin with?
8. To have joy, true joy, requires first to be of godly sorrow. Mourning (over what?) “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (2 Cor 7:10). “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:” (1 Pet 1:8).
9. To receive and have God’s riches is to first be poor in utmost poverty. Poor in Spirit; understanding, acknowledging and accepting your spiritual poverty. And Meekness. Meekness is your life, your power under His control. You can't believe in Him and deny Who He is. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:3). “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Is 57:15).
10. To reign with Christ we must first become His servants. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things” (Matt 25:21). That doesn’t happen sometime during the Christian life, but at salvation (Lk 14:25-15:32).
11. The more you give, the more you receive. Scattering results in increasing and harbouring produces poverty (Pr 11:24-25). “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” (Pr 11:24). “To get, we must give.” This is not the world’s method for attaining prosperity, but it is the paradoxical message of God’s prescription to Christianity in general.
12. Finally, we note the ninefold paradox of the true Christian ministry: “In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God. . . . By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Cor 6:14, 8-10).