Three (among untold countless) Glorious Blessings of Salvation1
As glorious as it is that we are “saved” from divine judgment and wrath, it is more glorious still to consider what we are “saved” for or to. In other words, what blessings or privileges or gifts do we receive when we believe and are justified, when we confess and are saved? Paul mentions three in particular in Romans 10:11-12.
First, we have the absolute, unassailable, rock-solid, blood-bought assurance that we will never “be put to shame” (v. 11). All of us know what it feels like to experience shame. It’s horrible. It is soul crushing and dignity destroying. It leaves us feeling lost and hopeless and disqualified. But here in Romans 10:11 I think Paul has two ideas primarily in mind.
In the first place, there is the fear of being exposed as stupid for believing in something that turns out in the end to be a fraud. To put all your eggs in one basket, spiritually speaking, only to discover that the basket is utterly empty is shattering. Paul’s point here is that we need never worry or live in fear that the promises of God to believers will fail to come to pass. We have it guaranteed to us, based first on the integrity of God’s character and second on the blood of Christ shed for us.
But there is a second dimension to what Paul has in mind. It is the fear that everyone experiences of being exposed as ugly and defiled and unworthy and spiritually deformed. To feel shame at being seen and known as having failed is terrifying. But listen to how Jude put it –
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever, Amen” (Jude 24-25).
What I want you to see and hear is that when we stand before the blinding, scintillating glory of God himself we won’t be afraid or ashamed but will feel only “great joy”! That is the assurance that Paul gives us in Romans 10:11.
Second, yet another blessing of being justified and saved is that regardless of race or culture or heritage we all have the same Lord as Lord. God no longer looks on any human, ethnic, physical, or racial distinctives. He sees us all in the same light, as those clothed with the righteousness of Jesus. Jesus is Lord over believing Jews and believing Gentiles and believing Russians and believing Australians and believing blacks and believing whites and believers of every color and country and political party. The only thing that matters is whether or not we believe!
Third, and this may be the most glorious blessing of all, God bestows on all who believe “his riches” (v. 12b). Some of you unfamiliar to the Christian faith may think that Paul has just assured all believers that they will be financially wealthy in this life. No. That is not what he means by the word “riches.” It is assuredly true that in many cases he blesses people with great earthly treasures. And he does so in order that they might more generously share with those who have little.
But it is not cars or computers or bulging checkbooks or ever-increasing stock portfolios or land or lake homes or jet airplanes that are promised to us.
Paul has been explaining the “riches” of salvation all through Romans. He has in mind things such as the forgiveness of sins . . . redemption . . . being foreknown and foreloved by God . . . being predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus . . . being called and justified and ultimately being glorified and made like unto Jesus himself. The “riches” in view are justification and sanctification and the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit and being adopted as the children of God who cry out, Abba! Father!
The “riches” of salvation include the promise of never being put to shame or suffering disappointment that something God has promised fails to come to pass. You, this local church, and the love and unity that we share together in Christ are the “riches” of salvation. The gifts of the Holy Spirit that enable us to serve and minister to one another are the “riches” of salvation.
Paul will later, in Romans 14, speak of the “riches” of the kingdom of God that consists in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The “riches” include the “promises” given to the patriarchs (Rom. 15:8) and hope in the power of the Spirit (Rom. 15:13) and the assurance that our lowly corrupt bodies will be resurrected and glorified.
But all these are not the greatest of the treasures and wealth that God gives to those who believe. The most precious of all “riches” is God himself! We get God! We get to see God, to bask in the presence of his beauty. We will be forever satisfied and delighted with the splendor of God in all his beauty.
Back in Romans 9:23 Paul spoke of the “riches of his glory” prepared for the “vessels of mercy” whom God has chosen to inherit eternal life. The greatest of the “riches” that are so freely given to us is God’s very glory: ours to see and enjoy and savor and be enthralled and fascinated.
I confess that I often grow weary of people and their speculations about what heaven will be like. They have fanciful and often selfish illusions about life in the new heaven and new earth. And in doing so they lose sight of the greatest joy and blessing of all. John barely touched on it in Revelation 22, but what he said is enough:
“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:3-5).