I was planning on moving on from my discussion of faith alone and salvation until I read 2 Corinthians 1.6 this morning. This is how it reads in the NKJV:
Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted it is for your consolation and salvation.
This verse makes no sense if you believe salvation is by faith alone. How could Paul’s sufferings or consolations have any bearing on any one else’s salvation? What do personal sufferings have to do with one’s salvation if salvation is only brought about by faith alone?
To make “faith alone” work for this verse, you’d have to do some radical spiritual gymnastics – twisting, jumping, and flipping around. You end up being more concerned about sticking to a theological system than simply understanding scripture itself.
However, this verse means something to us as we understand salvation to include bringing us into union with the Triune God, entailing all of life, and healing of our hearts and minds. Salvation is not limited to forgiving sins, escaping hell, and getting us to heaven. Salvation also involves enduring suffering and enjoying consolation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. There is much more here than faith alone.
Salvation is ours as we, in faith, endure affliction and enjoy consolation.
St. Paul is an example to us of this reality.
Now the verse makes sense.
Today, as you struggle, suffer, rejoice, and/or find comfort, know that all of this is for your salvation.