The image of a diamond is commonly used to show the multi-faceted reality of how sinners are saved by God. Although a diamond is one gem, it contains many facets that, when gazed within, shows different aspects contained inside it. Like that, salvation has a beautiful complexity and many facets that make up a larger whole, and the more we examine the different facets of what God is doing in his salvation, the more beautiful his work becomes to us.
God’s plan for man’s salvation far exceeds anything our minds can embrace, and the depth of his love is far greater than anything our hearts can contain.
THE MULTIFACETED DIAMOND
1. Justification (Romans 3:26)
The legal dimension of our faith requires a declaration of right standing before God. Because of our transgressions, God as judge must pronounce upon us a sentence of “guilty” or “not guilty.” Justification is God’s legal declaration of right standing for us. In this, we are declared righteous before God as if Christ himself were standing in our place on our behalf.
This is the scandal of grace and one of the most profound mysteries of God’s salvation.
2. Regeneration (Ezekiel 37:5-6)
Born spiritually dead, the things of God do not naturally satisfy us. As a result we declare war on God by setting up our rival kingdoms against his, declaring right and wrong on our own terms. The act of regeneration is the act by which God brings us to life, revitalizes our minds and hearts, and makes us awestruck by his beauty.
God regenerates new life from our dead spirits, places His Spirit of life inside of us, and awakens us to have new desires for His presence.
3. Redemption (Ephesians 1:7)
In antiquity, when slaves completed work to pay their debts, their owners would issue a document of redemption. The slave would then be set free. When God took Israel out of Egypt he redeemed them from Egyptian slavery. The picture of redemption is the picture of a sinner being set free from the bondage and slavery of sin. Sin keeps us locked in prison, but God redeems us by buying us back with Jesus.
This new freedom we have in Christ is not a freedom to sin, but freedom from it.
4. Propitiation (1 John 4:10)
God renders justice perfectly. The punishment for sin has to be paid for, with no exception, by someone. Propitiation is when God’s wrath for our sins is absorbed by Jesus’ death. God punished sin by allowing Jesus to satisfy is wrath against it. Now, God’s wrath satisfied, there can be a way of peace.
Although we made ourselves his enemies, God died for his enemies and rendered death (the punishment for sin) upon his son so we could have life and peace with God.
5. Recreation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
God made the world and everything in it and called it good, but we took his creation and we destroyed it with our sin. The beginning of God making all things new starts with Christ, then continues with us as we become little images of fis new creation. Jesus is the new type of human, the type of human that lives perfectly in tune with God, just like he intended humanity to live. As followers of Christ we experience this new humanity by living in tune with God and by knowing, serving, and living with him just like he desired in the beginning. God is moving creation toward newness, and he is doing this now in us. We are the first of God’s new creation.
6. Sanctification (Philippians 2:12)
God sets apart those who belong to Him to be used for special purposes. This is sanctification and it means that God is changing us from the inside out, giving us the ability to say no to sin and yes to Jesus. God is moving us toward holiness, and although we are moving imperfectly, we still maintain a steady path toward a perfect connection with God that will come when all things are made new.
God uses all areas of our lives to sanctify us and show us our sinfulness so we can repent and work out the salvation that God has given us.
7. Adoption (Ephesians 1:5)
C. S. Lewis said, “The Son of God became man to enable men to become sons of God.” Not every person is God’s child, but through Christ’s work we can become children of God through adoption. This changes the way God relates to us as Father, not as dictator. This profound, loving image of God being our Father can only be understood from the Christian worldview. This also changes the way we relate to one another as believers.
Every believer should be considered a brother or sister in Christ, and be treated as more important than ourselves.
8. Reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
When a husband and wife fight they effectively declare war on each other. In the same way, we have declared war on God, broken our relationship with him and separated ourselves from his presence. Although we have made ourselves God’s enemies, he brings us back to a restored relationship through Christ. Now, having peace with God, we are reconciled back to him. And this takes two forms: vertically (with God) and horizontally (with those we’re called to love).
Because we have reconciliation with God we can now have reconciliation with others.
9. Works (Ephesians 2:10)
Although we are clearly not saved by our works; we are most certainly saved for them. We don’t work for our salvation, we work from it. Nevertheless, works are involved with our faith. They validate the authenticity of our faith and God’s claim on our lives. God works through his people, and he designed these works in advance for us to do. However, works can never be separated from our heart condition.
If we work without our hearts being in the right condition, our labor is in vein and evil in God’s sight.
10. Atonement (Romans 3:25)
Two people sit down at a restaurant and the server brings the bill. Person A forgets his wallet so Person B says, “I’ll cover you.” In this way, Person B has “covered” the debt that Person A is required to pay. So this is the act of atonement. Jesus “covers” sin by paying our debt that is owed to God. Jesus lived his life in a way that earned God’s favor.
He gives his righteousness (his earned work) to pay for our sinfulness, thereby absorbing our sins’ damaging effects.
THE DIAMOND AS A WHOLE
In the end, every aspect of our relationship with God and the benefits thereof find their place in our union with Christ. It is the unity that we have with Jesus that activates and seals our place within the love and protection of God Almighty. This means our greatest need is to embrace the person of Jesus and to live with the sole purpose and primary focus of cultivating the relationship that we have with him, placing him above all things in our lives, loving him more than our own families and even ourselves.
It means that he is more valuable to us than even our own lives. His reward is greater. His work is complete. Jesus is the true gem of the multifaceted beauty that we find in God’s saving work and he is the timeless treasure of ultimate worth and value.