What do Christians experience that non-Christians don’t?

Since “Christ died for all,” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, and therefore everybody’s saved already, what’s the difference between Christians and non-Christians? And what’s the point of being a Christian if every human being has already been “reconciled to God through the death of his Son,” Romans 5:10?

But there’s a second part to that verse that says “MUCH MORE having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life,” and this is the part that Christians experience. All humanity received the first part of their salvation already with Christ’s death, but there’s a second part to salvation as well, that comes with Christ’s life, and that’s the part non-Christians don’t (yet) experience.

Why not? Because the second part of salvation is LIVING it, and how can you live what you don’t know you’ve got? You have to know you’ve got salvation already to be able to live it. So non-Christians aren’t into the salvation offered by Christ’s life yet.

But to Christians Paul said, “Work out your salvation,” Philippians 2:12, because salvation is to be lived, as well. Now that we know we’ve got it, LIVE it. Salvation, therefore, isn’t just something that happened to us way back when Jesus died, it’s something that can be experienced every day too. A whole new world has opened up to us: We’re saved already, so live in that knowledge and see what happens, because as Christians we can.

That’s why Paul encourages Christians to work out this salvation we’ve got, or, as The Message translates that verse, “be energetic in your life of salvation,” because salvation is something to be lived, and to be lived out energetically, to the full, making the most of it. Non-Christians can’t do that, but Christians can.

How? – “By GOD’s energy,” verse 13. It’s not our energy or strength by which we “work out” our salvation, it’s God’s. It’s “by HIS life” – by Christ’s life being worked out in us – that we experience this second part of our salvation. It’s by Christ living who he is in us. His life becomes our life, so completely and absolutely that Paul says “Christ IS our life,” Colossians 3:4. Jesus brings to life all that he is in us, and what we then get to experience is “gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him,” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (The Message).

More bright and more beautiful. Well, of course, because Christ is living his beautiful life in us. That’s what being saved by his life does. So go on, says Paul, let Christ work it out in our lives, because that’s what we’re Christians for, to live and experience our salvation every day.

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