29 June 2009

Who is Saved?

This past week has brought so many questions about salvation to the forefront of my mind. Will we see Jack again? Is he resting with a whole and healthy body beside still waters, surrounded by all the dogs who went before him, engaging Jesus in discussion and getting satisfactory answers? How big is God and his mercy? Here are a few scriptures that I've had swimming around my head:

John 10:28-29 "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." This scripture is the one that people cling to when they know someone had a "salvation experience" that wasn't followed by a lifetime of growth and spiritual fruit.

Revelation 21:4 "There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." This scripture is so powerful for those who lost a loved one who had a lot of suffering or a long illness, I cannot even express it to you.

Mark 8:35 "Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live." If you don't have spiritual fruit, if you don't consistently die to self for the purpose of becoming more like Christ, if you don't attempt to glorify him in all you do, you don't know what it is like to really live free of the deadweights of bitterness, hate, or fear.

2 Chronicles 16:9 "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." Does this mean those who aren't committed to becoming like him, that those who have believed in his saving power but don't work on sanctification, aren't strengthened by the Lord? That they have a power cord, and a power source, but they never plug it in? That they are saved with "fire insurance" but don't use or don't understand the resources they have in this life?

Hebrews 4:13 "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Only God knows a man's heart, and only he knows where his trust lies. We can hypothesize and guess and estimate, but only God knows the real truth of the matter.

Isaiah 55:8-9 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." God has laid out his plan for salvation in the Bible. But there are holes, or bare spots, on topics where we want it spelled out clearly. What happens to those secret tribal people that never heard the name of Jesus? What about the last-minute death-row convict who professes faith? What about the "came-to-Jesus-down-the-center-aisle-signed-the-card-took-the-Bible-faded-to-everyday" person?

Jeremiah 32:17 "Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you!" He is so much greater than we can comprehend. But we are so sinful.

2 Timothy 1:12 "I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." Back to the trust issue- can it be enough to say it meaningfully a few times, and never follow through? I know it isn't the ideal, that a 'real' experience would lead to growth, but is that just me sinfully and jealously saying "if I put in the hours at sanctification, you can't get in on justification alone!"

Psalm 94:19 "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." When we are down in the pit, and we cry out, he hears us and comes to us. That real saving feeling frequently leads to a surrender and a trust statement, an intention of life-change. But in the cold light of day, some people don't believe that it was as real as it felt- that it was just their emotions and not God speaking comfort to them.

Romans 8:15 "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship." But this scripture is addressing our tendency to go back in the unlocked cell. Can a person be saved if they stay in there after being freed?

Ephesians 3:16-19 "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." What if they are planted (saved) but then never rooted or established? There are so many ways to hear the gospel now- what if they found him on the web and never got in a local church? What if what if what if?!

Titus 3:3-7 "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Does my whole concern lie on the lack of spiritual fruit? Does it hinge solely on an act of justification? What is the role of sanctification in the doorway to heaven? Can you have justification (salvation) without sanctification (fruit) if there is a big time gap in between?

These aren't even questions I think we can really answer completely to our satisfaction... I pray that those that we wonder about can enjoy the company of our mighty God.

"The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

Zephaniah 3:17


Anonymous said...

Gee T, we need time together to have some fellowship. Great thought provoking questions.

mama4x said...

Ok, anonymous... you'll have to leave your name next time.