Salvation is a Process


#1

Many of us on this site at one time or another were witnessed by another the ‘simple plan of salvation’ consisting of a few select verses that explained the Gospel in a concise manner. Several plans or illustrations are familiar, such as The Four Spiritual Laws, The Romans Road, and the Bridge Illustration, but they all convey the same basic pattern:

  1. God loves you and has a plan for your life.
  2. Man is a Sinner and separated from God and in danger of Hell.
  3. God send His Son to die for Man’s sins.
  4. If we call upon Jesus, He will save us and grant us a place heaven.

And of course, the emphasis is that we as sinners play hardly any part in the salvation process. We might even throw in Ephesians 2:8,9 in for our Catholic friends to ensure them that “it is a gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast”.

Now I don’t necessarily condemn anyone using this method to reach others for Christ; I’ve used them myself. Nor do I wish to complicate or confuse interested prospects from “the simplicity that is in Christ”. However, I fear for a great number of people who have been saved in with these presentations are left with a misunderstanding of what God expects of them, now that they are saved.

Of course, we rejoice when the one we witnessed to gets saved. But often times our celebration is short-lived when we find that the person whose name is now written in glory doesn’t show us in church the next Sunday when we duly invited him or her to come and we wonder 'why?". If I were to give a rough percentage of people that our church has seen saved during visitation and NOT come to church the following Sunday I would not be to wrong to estimate about 70% to 80%. One would think that when one gets saved they would run to the church house to learn more about their new found home in Heaven.

It’s frustrating. And it seems clear to me that they once they have what they want, they are content to go back business as usual to what they are doing. After all, God saved them, what else do they need? They have their ‘fire insurance’ in hand. Afterall, what else was emphasized, but a need to escape hell. Moreover, Heaven can wait.

So then, prime motivation for those to whom the Gospel is witnessed seems to be self-preservation, which seems to contradict what Jesus said in Luke 17:33, “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.”

I’ve lashed out some of my concerns in this post on another thread: Wrath: God’s motivation for UR, not ECT

But in continuation of this, I’d like to examine passages in scirpture which suggest that salvation, rather than a one-time done deal, is actually a life long process, that may even continue in the next life, as we hopeful EUs contend.

I’d like to start with Romans 5:10:

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

There are several things going of here in this verse:

  1. "we are enemies’ - we are at variance against God, opposed to Him. Our condition is as an outsider.

  2. “we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” - I find it interesting that there is a change of our condition upon the death of Jesus. Somehow something in this action allows us to bring us into a peace meeting with God. God has accepted the terms. We are no longer enemies. God has justified us.

I suppose this is the initial ‘salvation’ that occurs when we witness to someone and the decision is made to ‘accept Christ’ based on His death on the cross. (Curiously, none of these Gospel presentations touches on His resurrection).

  1. “being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” - This is the touchstone of my entire premise. Once a person is saved, they are not finished. We are reconciled to God. We accept Christ as Savior, and our sins are washed away. BUT THEN, we are saved by His life. Notice this is something that happens, AFTER we are reconciled. But instead of the involvement of His death, we have His life that saves us.

The next chapter of Romans expounds on this a bit more:

*“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” - Romans 6:4 *

“Even so”, that is even as Christ was raised, it is this walk that is a continuing process of our salvation. It is in Christ’s resurrection power that we can see our santification. How? Through the same Spirit that raised Jesus.

“Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:” - Romans 6:8

“For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.” - Romans 6:10

There is a distinction between our salvation at Christ’s death and our salvation at Christ’s resurrection. This is not something that takes place when we get to Heaven, but something that takes place now.

“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” - Ephesians 2:5-6

Next, I show you how our continuing salvation is by grace, not by works, yet our continuing involvement is still needed…


#2

Nice job! Philippians 3 comes to mind.

Looking forward to the rest,
Sonia


#3

Excellent job Dondi expanding and explaining the difference between justification and sanctification. I actually think it’s easier for EUs to hold this because the don’t see death as the end of the road for anyone. God is continually at work and doesn’t give up just because someone dies. I also like your point that salvation is a gift but we still should respond with action, to become more Chirst-like by the Spirit’s help.


#4

*“And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” - Philippians 3:9 *

Is this what you had in mind?

It is interesting that Paul’s own righteousness is of the law. But how curious that the law came from God. So really even then, it is still God’s righteousness.

Could it be that Paul is talking about something else?


#5

Exactly.

I used to hold to OSAS, now I’m not so sure, because there are verses that suggest that we can draw back (and I’ll get to those eventually). Not that God won’t try and encourage to return to Him, but I believe there is still a danger of falling away, if we are not careful. There may even be times like in Romans 1 where God give us over to a depraved mind, not specifically for certain acts mentioned is that passage, but anything that our desires will hold onto. Still the thought of EU brings hope that God will not leave us helpless in that state.


#6

I have stated that the process of salvation is as follows:

  1. Initially, we were enemies of God, but are brought nigh by the Blood of Christ, made by His Death and that on the Cross, which satifies God in some manner, though not necessarily penal atonement. In this sense we are saved from continuing to be enemies to God. We are able to meet with God through Christ, finding grace in time of need.

  2. Our continued response to His leading is incumbant on us to follow as we are led by the Spirit, which is made possible through His Life, which was made manifest through His Resurrection.

This leading, as we walk by the Spirit which indwells in us will continue the process of sanctification, so long as we are cooperative in the obedience to His divine command. To wit, we are being saved from our sins through Jesus in a manner that will conform us into the image of Christ.

I pause to give thought on the condition of such a one who has gone through both processes (1 & 2), who by reason of his will turns away from the Truth and back into his old ways. We cannot deny that this has happened, and is indeed inevitable to happen as the 'falling away" before that Day comes. I will contend that as complete as the process of salvation is initially obtained, through the Death of Christ, and the following santifcation offered through His Life, that it is possible that one can complete of His will deny the One that bought him. This is apparently evident in several scriptures:

*“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” - Hebrews 6:1-6 *

This sticky portion of scripture has been debated is several ways. Some believe that it is speaking of those Jews who come to believe in Christ, yet go back to the Old Testament rituals and beliefs of their former faith, reasoning that the book of Hebrews is primarily addressed to such Jews. The problem I see in this is that this passages inverably shows the salvation process of which I just described in complete detail. The author, in the previous chapter, just admonished that his audience ought to be teachers by now, indicating that these believers have been around for some time, but have stagnated somewhat and are only receiving the milk ,and not the meat of the Word.

This milk is explained in vs 1-2 in chapter six. And it is clear to me that this has everything to do with the initial salvation through the death of Christ. This milk is foundational in scope. Further, they “have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.” Gifts are given to members of the church for edification of the same. By partaking of the Holy Ghost, they have experienced a walk in the Lord and know the goodness of God through the Word, and have experience the resurrection power of the world to come through the Life of Christ.

In other words, these are true believers in Christ.

Now the danger here, of course, is that it is plan to see that one can “fall away” (parapiptō)from the faith. The idea is that of descending from a higher to a lower place. To turn from God, that is to backslide. Had it meant that certain Jews fell away from believing Christ and back to Judaism, the term used ought to have been (apostasia), as is used in 2 Thess 2:3, speaking of the end times and the son of perdition is revealed.

Hebrews 6:4-6 states that for those who have tasted this salvation that it is impossible “to renew them”, since they openly “crucify *to themselves *the Son of God afresh”. And while this seems like there is not longer any possibility of recourse in such a statement, there may perhaps be a hope if we ponder whose action is it “to renew them”. Is it impossible for themselves to renew themselves? Or is it impossible for us as concerned Christians to renew them, that is to implore them to come back into a right relationship with God? Or is it impossible for God to renew them? Certainly the passage is vague enough to allow God’s mercy in such a situation.

But vs 9 nails the notion that all the dialog up to this has concerned salvation.

We will examine more of these kinds of verses in a later post.


#7

Yes, that’s the way I understand it. God still can, although He may have to use Hell to do it :neutral_face:


#8

How does the mechanics of hell supposed to “renew themselves” if the person cannot do so? Doesn’t that imply a “forced” renewal? Or is it the humbling experience of enduring a period of hell bring the person to godly sorrow that would produce repentance?


#9

*“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” - Philippians 2:12 *

I’ve heard it explained that this isn’t really telling us that we work for our salvation, but rather we need to confirm the salvation that is already present in us. Certainly we want to be careful don’t want to contradict such passages as Ephesians 2:8,9. But also as certain, we can be rest assured that we do not save ourselves…by our own accord, that is, but through the blood sacrifice of Christ who brings us to God for our initial salvation through His Death, which I believe is what Ephesians 2 addresses (evident is the preceeding verses 1-5). And only then are we created to do good works in Christ.

The Philippians passages speaks to our ongoing sanctification. It is the creation of a life that will imitate Christ. The thrust of Philippians 2 is to* 'let this mind be in you, which is also in Christ".* What mind? That we exhibit the fellowship of the Spirit with the same love, looking toward the things of others.

Thus, then is the obedience Paul is talking about, that we reach out in love for one another. Love requires work, a lot of work sometimes. It involves dealing with people you may not get along with or even like. But we do it all in the power and strength of the Spirit that abides in us, helping us to produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatian 5) in all patience and virtue. And this we simply cannot do by ourselves.

The goal of our salvation is to be the image of Christ. And what better way to do this than by having the Holy Spirit abide in us AS WE ABIDE IN HIM!!! That’s the working out of our salvation, that constant abiding.

The danger of course is falling back into ourselves. Trying and relying on our own egotistical strength to accomplish the things of God, but finding ourselves wanting and often failing. Even Jesus took time spending time with God, and was admistered to and strengthened by the angels. How can we do any less? That is why Mary sat at Jesus’ feet for the best part, while Martha tried to do everything on her own, and her countenance was wrong.

We should be fearful of NOT conforming to the image of Christ. We should tremble that we aren’t seeing God working in our lives. Because the end result of our salvation ought to be Christ in us. And if you find yourself not there you should “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Cor. 13:5)” They say the proof is in the pudding. What kind of pudding are you making?

BTW, “reprobate” in the Strong’s means “that which does not prove itself such as it ought”. It is also used in conjunction with precious metals and coins of not standing the test or approval. In other words, shoddy workmanship. God is looking for quality people, “vessels of gold and silver” (2 Tim 2:20) for honor. But He is also known for using “vessels of wood and earth” for dishonor. What we become is up to us.


#10

I’ve come to understand it as follows:

It’s the sacrifice of Christ that gets us all into heaven.
BUT
It’s our sacrifice (cross we carry, death to self) that gets heaven into us!


#11

Indeed.


#12

I kinda sorta disparaged the short pithy communication style that is “tweeting” over on another thread (in essays I think…) but THIS is the kind of brilliance that really gets the mind rolling!

Thanks Sherman!

TotalVictory
Bobx3


#13

I’m not sure about the mechanics, however, I think God will have to do the renewing and the person will have to do the responding.

Yes & no, I think God can use some force to some extent.

I hope so.


#14

That was indeed brilliant.

Ya stole my thunda!