Guest Post: Salvation, Love’s Restoration – Craig Stephens
“Love is everything.”
William Booth (Founder, Salvation Army)
Here is the revelation that is shaping my life today: love does everything to recapture my heart, with the purpose of doing everything to restore my heart.
- 13 We always have to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, for you are dearly loved by the Lord. He proved it by choosing you from the beginning for salvation through the Spirit, who set you apart for holiness, and through your belief in the truth. 14 To this end he handpicked you for salvation through the gospel so that you would have the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- -2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 (TPT)
Salvation comes as you receive the good news that you have always been loved, and that Love has already saved you. The proof that you are loved is in Love’s choosing you and declaring ‘saved’ over your life. Salvation that has already happened (past-tense salvation) restores me to an intimate relationship with God. This is gifted to me by Love. I don’t earn, deserve it, or play any role but receive the good news that Love has loved me back into Love’s arms. And that these arms of Love will hold me safely in salvation’s story forever.
This is not a provable fact. Rather, it is a faith-truth, a truth I receive with questions, doubts, and mystery firmly present. It’s an encountered, experienced truth that is written by Love on the lining of my heart. Don’t ask me for empirical proof or look for an intellectual argument from me. I won’t try and convince you. I will only invite you to your own personal encounter with Love. For Love speaks to the heart, and the heart knows truth and meaning even beyond reason.
Salvation ongoing (present tense salvation) is Love’s ongoing presence restoring me into… ME! This is the glory of love, the “so that” of Love: to see me become the lover I have always been, and then reflect this love into a world desperate for me to be ME, to be the lover-me. Love created me in Love’s image, and Salvation has an ongoing purpose in my life, in that I am transformed by the presence of Love, as I experience all the glory of love from that personal encounter. This is the “so that,” the “to this end,” of salvation: Me experiencing Love’s glory and then becoming Love’s glory, then reflecting Love’s glory.
Past-tense salvation makes me right positionally and relationally. It gives me the identity, security, and significance of being loved by Love. Present-tense salvation restores me through relational proximity into the intended “end” of salvation’s purpose, the restored lover-me, reflector to the world of Love itself.
I will stand in the completed work of my past-tense salvation all my life. It will never be challenged in my thinking by shame, condemnation, or unworthiness. I will accept and live in the verdict of “I am Love’s beloved.” I am forgiven by Love, restored to Love’s table, restored to Love’s embrace, forever and always.
I will walk in the invitation of present-tense salvation to live in Love, from Love, for Love. I will allow the fullness of love to enable me to be the fullness of me. Past-tense salvation positions me in love; present-tense salvation propels me in Love, to love.
Is there a more beautiful story? Is this not the summary of the story that all humanity is desperate to make theirs personally? Thank you for restoring me to Love and restoring me to ME. Thank you, Love, for all the identity, security, and purpose this now shapes for my life. I am at last seen and loved as the real me. I am safe to be me, and I am significant as me. Thank you, Love. I love being loved, and I love being love. I love this story of Love’s salvation that is mine.