2010-05-21 - What Must I Do to be Saved?
Part 2 ~ Originally Preached 2002-06-30
Salvation: A single moment in time of confession and belief
Salvation that happens in this moment is redemption. We have been justified in a single moment. We are saved from the eternal consequences of sin (death, hell, and eternity away from God). We are saved to heaven. And we are saved by God's mercy and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and the victory he won in his resurrection.
In this moment we are promised eternal life with God, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and saved to heaven. At this time we also have a place prepared for us. Various analogies are used for this. Jesus refers to it as a second birth in John 3. Later, it is called a freeing of slaves in John 8:31-36. It is called redemption in Ephesians 1:7. And other places refer to it as a covenant, testament, a marriage, and adoption. Notice - all these things are events or things that have a definite date and time. Not a single one of these events can be undone. We may die but we cannot be unborn. We may get married but not married (a divorce is not the same as being unmarried). Once we know someone we cannot un-know them.
The year is 1829; George Wilson robbed the mail and killed a man. He was caught, tried, and found guilty of his crimes. He was sentenced to be hanged. Friends took his case to the top to the President of the United Sates. President Andrew Jackson pardoned him but he refused the pardon. Confused as to whether this was possible or not, the President turned to the Supreme Court and asked them to decide the matter. They did and in the ruling Supreme Court Chief Justice Marshall stated "a pardon is a piece of paper, the value of which depends on its acceptance by the person implicated. It is hardly to be supposed that a person under the sentence of death would refuse to accept a pardon, but if it is refused, it is then not a pardon." George Wilson was hanged with a pardon laying on the sheriff's desk. He denied his moment of acceptance and belief. He was not saved.
Salvation: Ongoing period of following God
Once saved, we begin another salvation or time of sanctification. This is a time in which we are being purified of the sins in our life. We are saved from our sins and the consequences of sin in this life. We have been saved from the eternal consequences of sin but that is different from its effects in this life. I may be forgiven of being a drunkard but years in that lifestyle will result in problems with my liver. However if I never get drunk I am saved from those consequences. We are also saved to the abundant life that Jesus talks about in John 10:10. We are saved by God's strength that is manifested in our actions when we ask for it.
During this time we are choosing spirit over flesh on a day to day basis. We are to strive by love to grow in faith and are delivered daily from sin. We also lay up treasures by our service in the place that has been prepared. Various passages refer to this with different analogies. Paul states we are to die daily to sin and have the inward man renewed in 2 Corinthians 4:16 (For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day) Look at the model prayer found in Luke 11:2-4. Notice that it is a daily prayer, we must daily ask for bread. We are to daily ask God to "deliver us from evil" and "lead us not into temptation". Back a couple of chapters in Luke 9:23, Jesus says we are to pick up our cross and follow him. Now crosses back then weren't jewelry for our necks, lapels, or ears. There was only one reason you picked up a cross and that was to die on it. Our sin nature must die so our spirit nature can grow. Before the fruits can grow we have to remove the weeds then keep removing them so they don't choke out the good later on.
A former player retells a story about Frank Howard, a former head coach for Clemson. He had a tough game the next weekend. With 5 quarterbacks on the roster, the week started with the 1st and 3rd string quarterbacks out on injuries. Five minutes into the Monday practice, the 2nd stringer injured his knee. Ten minutes later 4th stringer hurt his knee leaving only the 5th string quarterback. He called the remaining player over and asked, "Son do you believe in magic?" The player stops and thinks about it a minute then says, "Well, sort of" "Poof! You are now a first string QB."
Many of us expect the Christian life to be the same way. Poof! All sin and strife is gone. Poof! Complete perfection because of one life changing moment but it just doesn't happen like that. We must work at it. We sin less when we do good more. The old saying, "Idle hands, or idle minds, are the devil's workshop", holds a lot of truth. If we are doing nothing good then we leave lots of time for the old deceiver to slip in and it is easy to fall back into the life we used to live. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 calls this "salvation through sanctification until we obtain the glory". Philippians 2:12, another Pauline epistle says it is worked out with fear and trembling. Ephesians 6:12 says we wrestle (present tense) with evil spirits. And in I Timothy 6:12 Paul encourages a young pastor and urges him to fight the good fight, an ongoing campaign.
One day that fight will end. One day we will die or be caught up in the rapture. And that is when we finally become completely saved.
Next time we will look at what it means to be completely or finally "saved".
All verses are from the King James Version unless otherwise specified.