"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen." (Galatians 1:3-5)There are two that acted in our salvation: The Father who willed and the Son who obeyed. The salvation we cherish is ours because the Father willed it to be ours. It was the will of God that we might be forgiven, it was the will of God that we might be saved from this age, and it is the will of God that we share eternity with Him in heaven one day. Apart from the will of God there would be no offer of forgiveness, no act of salvation, and no promise of everlasting life. God could have been content with the natural course of events which, following Adam and Eve's sin, would have been increasing death and destruction leading up to the end of all things. God could have left us in our sins and all creation groaning in futility. God could have left us to our sentence of judgment and destruction; destined to a life of eternal punishment away from His presence. However, none of these things pleased God, rather, He was pleased to offer us salvation, a salvation earned for us by His Son. What the Father willed, His Son accomplished. God willed that we might be saved and Jesus performed the acts of righteousness and obedience that became our salvation.
In speaking of our salvation, Paul contrasts two acts, one act that is historical, sure, and set in time, another that is, for some, still future, potential, and conditional. One has been accomplished and one waits to be accomplished. One that is not dependent on us and one that requires our consent. One we can never change and one that awaits our decision. Jesus came and offered Himself up, not only as a sacrifice for sin, but as the full payment for our sins past, present, and future. This is a historical fact. It is in faith and trust of this historical fact that we are saved. Our faith in what has already happened leads to our salvation. Based upon our response to this act, the second is opened to us. We cannot receive the second without accepting the first. His sacrifice opens up and makes salvation available to us.
The second act is what we receive when we accept the sacrifice, and trust in the obedience of, His Son and that is our salvation. Paul could have described our salvation in many ways but, for the purposes of this letter, describes it as a deliverance from this present evil age. The Greek term used here for "rescue" can also be translated to be "selected out of" or "torn out of." We live in a world of darkness and sin, a world already judged for destruction, a world whose wickedness and very existence is already coming under its judgment and is beginning to fade away. All those who are of this world will share in her judgment and destruction. However, God has selected us out of this world, He has ripped us out of this present evil age, and given us a new home and a new destiny. "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14) Our Christian life must no longer be understood in the context of our previous home. Paul speaks of this new life, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20) To understand our new life we must understand what Christ has done for us, the world we left behind, and the new home we have been placed in. Only then will the Gospel message, and Paul's letters, be properly understood.