A Short Consideration of our Gratuitous Salvation
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.”
– Isaiah 9:2
This verse highlights at least two beautiful aspects of God’s work to save fallen humans: 1) it is a gift, and 2) it is external to us
First, note the “freeness” and “giftedness” of salvation. There is nothing to compel it, nothing to demand it, nothing to earn it, and yet with a glorious “un-necessity,” the Great Light descends into the gloom and brings joy and gladness to the recipients (v.3). In addition, the gift-nature of our salvation is made explicit in v.6 when we are told that the dawning of this light is because “to us a Son is given.”
“Given” how many lifetimes could be spent considering the wonder that God gives…..All that is Good, True, or Beautiful, all that is life and joy, all that is worth existing for is GIFTED to us, POURED OUT to us. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” ….That is a wonderful reality.
And second, notice the external nature of salvation. It “shines” in from outside. It shines into darkness and gloom from without. Darkness cannot generate light, lightless-ness is what makes darkness dark…..it is hopeless. And yet, from outside, from another source, light comes in. Praise God we are not left attempting to find light within the deep darkness and gloom of our own bent hearts and minds…..praise God that “follow your heart” is not our hope or salvation…..praise God that light comes IN, that hope DAWNS, that joy and gladness come to us from what is not us. Our hope lies outside of ourselves. Oh, let your soul breathe in that truth like the fresh air into the lungs of bed-ridden cancer patient stepping outside for the first time in months…What refreshing doctrine scripture teaches us to embrace.
So, salvation (life, hope, joy, peace, gladness, freedom) comes as a gift and it comes from outside ourselves.
Wonderful! We cannot earn it, and we cannot generate it! Glorious inability! Blessed paralysis! We are helpless! We are powerless! We are needy and doomed apart from grace. This is just where the regenerated heart longs to find itself….this is just where our souls attain their rest (Isaiah 30:15). What a blessed reality: We are saved by a GIFT that is EXTERNAL to ourselves.
And, of course, we know now that the Great Light has a name: Jesus Christ. He is the Light of life who descends into our gloom and banishes our shadows, who enters our ash heap and lifts us out, who swallows our death and plunders our life from the Grave, who does everything – EVERYTHING – necessary for our salvation, and brings us into everlasting light in the presence of our God.
Glory, glory, glory to your name, Oh God, for our gratuitous salvation!