You love him, although you have not seen him, and you believe in him, although you do not now see him. So you rejoice with a great and glorious joy which words cannot express, because you are receiving the salvation of your souls, which is the purpose of your faith in him.
It was concerning this salvation that the prophets made careful search and investigation, and they prophesied about this gift which God would give you. They tried to find out when the time would be and how it would come. This was the time to which Christ’s Spirit in them was pointing, in predicting the sufferings that Christ would have to endure and the glory that would follow.
God revealed to these prophets that their work was not for their own benefit, but for yours, as they spoke about those things which you have now heard from the messengers who announced the Good News by the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. These are things which even the angels would like to understand. (Good News Translation)
No less real than our actual physical eyes are our spiritual eyes – which enable us to see things invisible to our physical eyesight. Faith is the glasses that bring those things into focus.
To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1, GNT)
Faith creates the conditions for love. Cold dispassionate ideas and thoughts are just that; but faith gives us sight to see the true nature and meaning of love. Faith enables us to see Jesus Christ, who is Love incarnate.
This spiritual sight, made possible by faith, and bringing Christ into focus, is the basis for joy and the foundation of hope. It is more than joy; it’s joy unspeakable, beyond words, greater than the vocal chords can produce. It’s the sort of joy that takes your breath away.
Joy elevates us and brings us face to face with the glory of heaven. And once we have experienced this, our contentment is solely in Christ, and we have no need for anything the world offers. This is what it means to be saved.
Salvation always involves two equal and important facets: deliverance from something, so that we may attach to something else.
For the believer, with spiritual eyes to see in faith, we are saved from all the snake oil promises and allurements of the world; we are delivered from the weight of guilt and shame we carry; and we are snatched from the flames of hell and the machinations of the devil to ensnare us in evil.
The deliverance comes so that we can then connect with goodness, truth, justice, integrity, wholeness – with the love of God in Jesus Christ. Experiencing this wondrous spiritual fruit leads to a pure confession of faith:
But all those things that I might count as profit I now reckon as loss for Christ’s sake. Not only those things; I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have thrown everything away; I consider it all as mere garbage, so that I may gain Christ and be completely united with him. (Philippians 3:7-9, GNT)
I am neither a Christian because I was raised in cultural Christianity, nor because it was all I knew at the time. Rather, I am a Christian – a follower of Jesus Christ – because I was given a great gift of faith and saw divine love given for me, even though I deserved none of it.
So, my heart fully and forever belongs to Christ. It is a life worth living, a life of faith, hope, and love. No matter the hardship, adversity, or crud which happens to me on this earth, I am thoroughly surrounded by God’s grace, peace, and love.
And if I have to explain it to you, you probably don’t have it. That’s because it takes a different sort of eyesight, a countercultural set of ears, and a new meaning of touch, smell, and taste.
This sort of deliverance from sin, death, and hell, and into a great inheritance of faith, is so incredible that the ancient prophets, and the even older angels, longed to know what this salvation truly is.
And what they foretold, and believers now know, is that the cross is the way to victory; death is the passage to life; suffering is the road to glory.
Therefore, our present afflictions need not discourage nor debilitate us, as though we were miserable without any hope. Even more, it is through these very troubles that we are blessed.
No matter the evil thrown our way, there is always glory attached to it. If we must suffer, let us do so in the same spirit as Christ suffered:
My dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful test you are suffering, as though something unusual were happening to you. Rather be glad that you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may be full of joy when his glory is revealed.
Happy are you if you are insulted because you are Christ’s followers; this means that the glorious Spirit, the Spirit of God, is resting on you. If you suffer, it must not be because you are a murderer or a thief or a criminal or a meddler in other people’s affairs. However, if you suffer because you are a Christian, don’t be ashamed of it, but thank God that you bear Christ’s name. (1 Peter 4:12-16, GNT)
Allow your spiritual eyes to confirm the truth, and to behold the living Christ.
“Why are you alarmed? Why are these doubts coming up in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet, and see that it is I myself.” Jesus (Luke 24:38-39, GNT)
May you know Christ, and him crucified, risen, and coming again. And may you know the hope of glory, indescribable joy, and everlasting love. May you know salvation.