Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Top 10 Things Every Christian Should Know #4


One thing I find fascinating as I study the New Testament and the practice of the early church is that their concept of salvation was much different than mine. When I think of salvation, I usually think of that one day when, as a nine year old boy, I walked forward and prayed with my pastor to ask Jesus into my heart. However, Peter and Paul seemed to have a different view of salvation. In their minds, salvation was an ongoing experience, not a one-time deal.

"..And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:42-47)

"For you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:9)

When we begin to think of Salvation as a process, and not an event, it changes the way we think of Evangelism.

The early church fathers also had a great saying that has come to inspire my own faith. The statement was "Conversatio Morem!" which can mean either "Death To The Status Quo!" or "Constant Conversion!", depending on the context.

This phrase was indicative of the mindset held by the early church fathers that salvation, or conversion, was something every disciple needed to experience constantly, not just a one-time event.

We could learn a lot from those early Christians, I believe. Our Church today could benefit from a new perspective on salvation as a process rather than as a single point in time. If we kept our focus on leading people to faith in Christ, with the understanding that we would continue, day-by-day, to encourage their ongoing submission to Jesus, the quality of our Churches would improve, our reputation in the community would improve, and the lives of those people would improve.

We need to follow Jesus, not just believe in Him. As it stands today, most Churches are more focused on winning converts, focusing on a one-time profession of faith, rather than aiming for long-term, daily surrender to Christ.

As I've said many times before, our question needs to be, "If you'd be alive tomorrow, who would you follow and how would you live your life?" and not, "If you died tonight, do you know you'd be in heaven tomorrow?” One question is about how you will die, the other is about how you intend to live. Salvation is about life, not death, and following Christ is about the life you're living right now, not the life you hope to live after you die and go to Heaven.

Following Christ, by definition, suggests a daily pattern of life modeled after Jesus and seeking His wisdom and guidance for daily decisions. It does not suggest a single event that took place years ago on a Sunday morning.

In your own experience, what happens when someone you've been praying for and witnessing to finally accepts Christ as Lord and Savior? Don't you cheer and weep and give high-fives to all your Christian friends? Sure you do. That's an appropriate response. Even the Scriptures tell us that the angels in heaven celebrate when someone is saved. (Luke 15:7-10)

However, our response and attention usually diminishes soon after this event. I believe it's because, for us, our work is done. Our friend has "made it". They are "in". They've crossed the finish line and we can all move on with our lives now.

But, if Salvation is a process, and not an event or a point in time, then our work is not done. Our friend has not come to the end of the journey. Instead, they have only just begun.

In other words, salvation is not the finish line, it is the starting line. If we begin to think of salvation in this way, as an ongoing, daily commitment to following the marvelous person of Jesus, it will have a radical effect on our methods of evangelism and the way we treat those we hope to lead into this way of life.

We will realize that our part of this process of evangelism involves a committment to people that extends long after they've made that first, tentative step towards following Christ, and we'll begin to see our own salvation as something we have to daily work on, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, as we surrender our lives to Christ every morning and confess our need for Jesus with every breath.

"..Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." - Philipians 2:12-13



Emily said...

I love this list. Can't wait to read the rest.

brother steve said...

Awesome post. This question has been buzzing in the back of my mind for a while and you have articulated my thoughts. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this out there. -


If salvation is a process then are you telling that salvation is guarenteed?