The idea of a person being “saved” hasn’t been a primary focal point for the church for most of the past 2000 years. Saved wasn’t a term widely recognized until the 1970’s when, “born again Christian” began to be used to describe a person who had been saved, or made a personal decision to follow Christ.
As I mentioned in my post on Ash Wednesday, the early church had a word that was synonymous with salvation, theosis. One writer explains it this way, “Theosis is the process by which a persons essential being is permeated and filled with the presence of God. Theosis is a biblical idea. When St. Paul talked about being ‘in Christ,’ or Christ being ‘in me’ he meant it literally. That’s how his words were understood by people who lived in his world and spoke his language, the ones who were his original audience.” To the early followers of Jesus, the idea of theosis and salvation were synonymous.
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” Is 30:15
As we look at Isaiah’s word again with the consideration of salvation as a process more than a decision, Isaiah’s words seems to make a little more sense. “In repentance and rest is your salvation.” As I read that with an interpretation of salvation as theosis, I can see a little more clearly how repentance and rest help aid in ongoing salvation. As I read the Isaiah passage with more of a current American understanding of salvation, I would see it reading more like this… Repentance and rest lead a person to a one-time decision to follow Jesus. I don’t really see how repentance which is a process (we will dive into that in upcoming weeks) and learning to rest, which is a process, pinnacle with a one-time decision.
I could be way off here, but the prophet Isaiah appears to be writing about how repentance and rest are catalysts to surrendering one’s life to God on a day-to-day basis, rather than trying to get someone to make a certain decision that equates to “salvation.” We’ll keep exploring this together as we make our way through Lent.
I mentioned Monday that I am exploring the themes of repentance and rest during Lent this year. I’m calling it True R and R. Traditionally, “R and R” is understood as rest and relaxation. While those are good, and I attempt to practice both often, it seems an important “R” is missing. I believe it is the most important “R”, and is integral to actually being able to rest and relax.
The prophet Isaiah says this about repentance and rest,
“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.'” (Is 30:15)
Before we dig deeper into what Isaiah might be getting at when he mentions repentance and rest, what do you suppose he means by salvation? If we consider a common definition of salvation Isaiah’s words don’t make a lot of sense. The word salvation tends to bring about an idea in our mind of Jesus dying on the cross paying a debt for our sins. Salvation is then understood as a person accepting that Jesus did this act for him or her. Salvation or “getting saved” is a one-time decision by a person to accept what Jesus has done.
This is not the understanding of salvation of the Early Church. They instead viewed salvation as being restored to the image and likeness of God. It was an ongoing process that lasted throughout a persons life. The early followers of Jesus preferred the word theosis when they talked about salvation. We will look at that more later this week.
The Early Church understanding of salvation helps me get a better grasp of what Isaiah might be saying with regards to repentance and rest being a doorway to salvation. We’ll keep looking at this together throughout this Lenten season.
LENT begins in 2 days. During this season of Lent I’ll be looking at two themes, repentance and rest. I am calling it True R and R. I plan to look at the powerful statements of two prophets throughout the Lenten season.
First, the prophet Isaiah:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (Isaiah 30:15)
the prophet and Master Jesus:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt 11:28-30)
I’ll be posting once or twice a week the next six weeks during Lent. If repentance an rest are things you would like to explore join in. Perhaps we will discover together what Isaiah and Jesus we offering to those who were listening.