A New Understanding of the Strength of the Gospel

I am amazed about the freshness of scripture. You read a verse over and over, yet in this specific reading, you see something new. Or rather, the Holy Spirit chooses to grace you with a new understanding.

That happened to me a couple of days ago.

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Passing on gospel thoughts

I purchased a Bible last year that has just the Psalms in it. It is compact with a leather cover and parchment-type paper. Each day I read a Psalm and then journal about something that God makes evident to me for that day.

I am almost done,  and it is my goal that, when finished, I can pass on grandpa’s notes to my first grandson, Preston. That is one way I can impact the next next generation.

It is awesome how much gospel truths abound in this book of Psalms.

Last Sunday I was reading from Psalm 140 and came across this phrase in verse 7:

O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation…

I have read this phrase a number of times but did not realize this is the only place in the Psalms where this specific wording is used.

There are 20 times that the Psalmist speaks of “my salvation.” Here are a few examples…

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. (Psalm 25:5)

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. (Psalm 62:1)

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. (Psalm 118:14)

As my eyes worked over Psalm 140 once again, the phrase “strength of my salvation” arrested my attention. It was like the Psalmist was emphasizing something different this time: not the salvation of the Lord as much as the Lord being the strength of his salvation.  

There is nothing unusual about this word “strength” – it has the idea of might, power, or firmness. It is when I read this word in the context of salvation that it took on a meaning that I had not seen before. 

You’re hired!

Let’s say that you are personal friends with one of the hiring managers at Google, a large and profitable company that has left quite a significant footprint in our digital world. And let’s further say that you are out of work and your friend hires you for a much-needed role within his company. It is a perfect fit between your giftedness and skill sets and the position. This is now your post, and you have been empowered and enabled to be successful and influential in it.

And on top of that, you are told that there is going to be great job security and that it is yours until you choose to walk away. 

Mmmm. A good job with a good backing.

Sounds like a dream vocation. In other words, we could say that Google would be the strength of your corporate position. They are the might and power behind it. Their word is the guarantee of support.

Sound good? Well it is. Except for one overlooked detail.

You’re hired! But…

Google cannot quite make that guarantee. Why? Because there are too many outside factors that go into the sustainability of a job, such as economics, the public no longer desiring the service Google provides, new drivers in the marketplace, as well as a host of other factors over which Google has no control.

As much as Google might like to say that they are the strength behind your hiring, they are – as long as nothing changes or goes awry. It is a narrow and restricted promise at best.

And no knock on Google because there is no company that can do any better than that. It is easy for us to think our foundation to be strong, but we really need to include a sign that says “Caution: foundation not as firm as you think. Built on shifting sand.”

The better backing

I tell you that story to contrast it with verse 7:

O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation…

I am a believer in the gospel and thankful for that. The longer I live, though, the more I see my own misconceptions of my salvation and what I think it means.

The Psalmist, in this instance, is not declaring the Lord to be his salvation. That is stated elsewhere in many other passages. 

No, rather he describes another aspect of Jehovah. Not only is God his deliverance, He is also the backing for that deliverance. 

There are three significant reasons this is important:

  1. We are not responsible or asked to intermix our efforts to accomplish our salvation. It is through His strength.
  2. We do not have to live in a discouraged state wondering if this salvation will be accomplished or completed. It is backed by the all-faithful word of the Father.
  3. The gospel-driven model of sanctification makes much more sense because “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” The phrase “will bring it to completion” speaks of might and power. Assurance.

Going back to my Google analogy, the deliverance in the form of a job is great – you were out of work and in need – but the absolute backing of future employment is a limited warranty at best.

Not so with God. He not only is my salvation but the absolute backing behind it. He is the strength behind the salvation that He offers.

My salvation does not change, but oh how it changes me. I cannot lose it. And regardless of the cultural winds of uncertainty, it can never be taken from me. 

God is not only my salvation, but He is the might and boldness that stands behind it. 

Omnipotent God backing His scandalous grace.

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his…” (2 Timothy 2:19)

All of this is true because of the strength of our salvation. Spend some time wrapping your head around that. And the next time you are tempted to perform to gain a better standing with God or think that His salvation is predicated on your behavior…think again.

He is not only your deliverance in the day-to-day now-ness of your life, but He backs it with His sure word and character. 

Any other thoughts to add? I would love to hear from you!

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