I felt to blog my current understanding of Salvation – the Christian journey – and what it means to be “saved”.
If you have read any of my other posts, you will see that I have grappled with making sense of God’s gift of Salvation and redemption, when considering the WHOLE counsel of God’s Word, with verses like:
– Without Holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14)
– Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)
– Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Mat 7:21-23)
…against the current prevalent teaching in large parts of the church that “Jesus did it all for me on the cross, and there is nothing I need to do except believe that I am made right with God”.
Well, Jesus did do it all on the cross and when I put my Faith in Him at that time (confessed with my mouth and believed in my heart that He died and rose again – Rom 9:10), then I was Justified or “made right” with God. The penalty was paid for all my sins by Jesus who freely gave His own life for me.
However, I was not transformed in the blink of an eye into the new creation that the Word talks about, because this is a process called Sanctification.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor 5:17). But did you note the condition: “if anyone is in Christ”?
And…Everyone who resides in him does not sin; everyone who sins has neither seen him nor known him. (1 John 3:6 NET)
I have come to strongly believe, based on the Word of God, that Sanctification is needed before we can “be in Christ”, and that sanctification is not an optional part of Salvation, but rather, is a key part of it.
So I asked God to show me in the Word, proof of my hypothesis that Sanctification is a key requirement of salvation. Then He showed me this verse from James:
Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 NET)
James talks about genuine faith being evident in an external way. (But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works – James 2:18).
So it would seem that the Word of God says that it’s not by faith alone that we are saved (this is the start), but it’s by (genuine) faith, in conjunction with grace (which the Strongs Concordance defines as “a divine influence on the heart, with its outworking in the life”), where the grace enables us to overcome the temptations and sin. And then, after being tested and passing this test, we inherit the crown of life. (James 1:12).
So the teaching that says: “Jesus died on the cross, took all my punishment and sin and shame and now God sees me as righteous. There is nothing I need to do except believe because it has all been done for me”, is a dangerous and false one that actually encourages sin. (Even if inadvertently or subtly, because it denies the opportunity for believers to examine the “brutal facts” of where their life is at in their walk with God).
So according to the scriptures, FAITH is one element of salvation, but if it’s missing the SANCTIFICATION element, our faith may not be genuine and our salvation and inheritance of eternal life (according to James 1:12) will not be there either.
You see, sanctification requires that we acknowledge the “brutal facts” of where we are at, but at the same time maintain an absolute faith that Jesus will complete the work He started in us and save us (remember: there are 3 tenses of salvation: we have been saved, we are being saved and we will be saved http://lifebythespirit.org/2009/11/23/when-are-we-actually-saved/).
So we know we have been justified by faith, but genuine faith will lead to sanctification by relationship with Holy Spirit, and produce good fruit and eternal life. Genuine faith will production actions that are consistent with our proclaimed “faith”. Remember that He is faithful to complete the work He started in you (Phil 1:6).
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:9-11).