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:
- God loves you and has a plan for your life.
- Man is a Sinner and separated from God and in danger of Hell.
- God send His Son to die for Man’s sins.
- 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:
"we are enemies’ - we are at variance against God, opposed to Him. Our condition is as an outsider.
“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).
- “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…