The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. (Isaiah 35:1)
The transformative power inherent in salvation is that same resurrection power that raised Christ from the dead – a power that continues to work in us as we live and move in Jesus. Wherever we look, we can find vibrant examples of this principle of abundant life at work. The incredible phenomenon of blooming deserts is particarly dramatic. It takes only a the smallest of rain showers, and what is reckoned dead and desolate erupts into breath taking, vibrant life and colour.
To appreciate this we need to understand that salvation isn’t a ‘one off’ experience. The Bible indicates three separate tenses used in relation to salvation, each highlighting a specific characteristic of this gift of grace. The first is the perfect tense. We are saved This is the eternal context of a past event. God saved us and our salvation exists even in today and in the future. It is perfect and complete, and requires nothing more in order to be perfect and complete. It is. Salvation, in this context, defines eternal positioning – where and what we are now. We are ‘having been saved.’
The second layer is that revealed in the simple past tense. This is historical fact. On a particular day at a particular time in a particular place we were saved. This is a one-time experience and cannot every be repeated. We cannot be re-saved. If we feel the need, it’s because we haven’t taken hold of our salvation as we should, not because it didn’t happen. It’s rather like a gift. I can receive it and own it, but until I put it to use, its utterly meaningless.
Finally, we find the dynamic, active layer of the continuing present tense which so clearly captures the ongoing nature of salvation. This is the working out of our salvation as we learn to live in the salvation purchased for us on the cross. This basically means that we are ‘continually being saved.’ As Christ works in us and the Holy Spirit guides and teaches us, we learn to appropriate more and more of the grace inherent in salvation. The fullness of a perfect and complete salvation begins to manifest in our live. It’s rather like being given all the paint we need to renovate our house. We have it. It’s ours. But for this to have effect and relevance it needs to be applied to the walls. That’s the continuing present tense.
This is the process of renewal and restoration that is the outworking of resurrection power. It’s not a once-off miracle but a lifetime of many cycles of arid to abundance. Of course, we are the desert prior to salvation. Our lives are fruitless and barren without the giver of life and the gift of life. But we don’t have a single dramatic blooming and then it’s all done.
We go through seasons, through trials of faith and lessons of perseverance, through times of hunger and thirst and moments of hardship and suffering. It is a purpose of God for us, inherent in salvation, that we bloom and be beautiful. That we be restored and renewed. That we would know the joy of the life within us and celebrate the seasons of abundance. But we aren’t saved simply to be beautiful. The primary reason for every single flower is very simple – it’s procreation. Plants have flowers to assure future growth and fruit. Even in salvation, the divine principle of multiplication is wired into the entire process.
Having the life of Christ in us means that we have the life that was restored to Him at His resurrection. It’s not anything like the physical life we see in the world. It’s a spiritual truth – an immeasurably power – that works continually in us to bring about restoration, renewal and transformation. Resurrection life looks forward, not backwards. As the desert blooms, the flowers form tiny fruits which contain even tinier seeds, which in turn are dropped and, seemingly, die in the dry and arid soil. But they contain the life, and as soon as the season is right and God sends the rains, those tiny seeds burgeon with an exuberance that is unstoppable.
This is a wonderful and enduring truth. Salvation contains transforming resurrection power. Just as God, through the Holy Spirit, raised Jesus from the dead, so He does for each one of us. If we are in Christ, it’s inevitable. If we’re in a vehicle travelling north, it’s northwards we will go. If we’re in a plane flying to Japan, then we’re going to Japan. Where Christ goes, we go, and that includes resurrection life.
Of course, one day, we will be with Him in eternity. There will no longer be seasons of drought and rain, and we will no longer be confined in the temporal and spatial limitations of this world. Until then, the seasons of our lives with ebb and flow as God has ordained. But His will remains. It is revealed in His Word – truth immutable. And His will is that we should be renewed, restored, transformed, made beautiful, and that we should rejoice in Him and bring forth fruit.
What a great and wonderful gift You have given us, Lord. Forgive us for the times we have perhaps taken salvation for granted, or not understand that Your will desires so much more from and for us. Keep us in You, Jesus, and help us to rejoice and to walk in that new life, that resurrection power, that raises us from spiritual death in You so that we may live, in abundance, for Your glory.