Author's note: This is the beginning of a series blogging our way through the book. I invite commentary and feedback!
By grace you have been saved by faith...
Salvation. Faith. Grace. We hear these terms on a regular basis. But what do they really mean?
is salvation? Is it “praying the prayer”? Does it come from doing good
deeds? Is it believing what the Bible says? Is it producing the proper
holy feeling inside (as C.S. Lewis mentioned in Surprised by Joy)?
look at one of the most popular salvation passages in the Bible: where
Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night, and where the famous John 3:16
passage is spoken.
“For God loved the world so much that he
gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not
perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to
judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment
against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in
him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.
And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the
world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their
actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near
it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right
come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
this is explained along these lines: “If you believe in Jesus, you get
saved. If you don’t believe, you don’t get saved.” Your failure to
believe buys you a death sentence.
But that actually isn’t what Jesus is saying at all. He begins by saying God sent His Son to save the world,
not to judge or condemn it. That’s God’s true intention. This is a
rescue effort to save those who are in trouble and who want to be saved.
When the light appears, they move toward it, seeing that it’s for their
own good. No matter how sinful, beat up, wounded, or worn out they are,
when they see the light, they know that hope is here.
are some who like the darkness—who have taken advantage of it to steal
and wound and kill. The last thing they want is light exposing their
true malicious acts. They flee from the same light that draws those that
want to be rescued.
So it isn’t a test to see if you believe the right things about
Jesus, and it isn’t just that you believe in Jesus in the sense that
you just assert your faith in Him. It’s that you trust Him enough to
turn toward Him for His help—and then to live as He tells you to live.
(Note that good deeds don’t buy salvation—we’ll be addressing that next
time—but our life in Christ is supremely important.)
In our first
post, we mentioned sorting out what matters and what doesn’t. This is
the first, the foremost, the primary: salvation, being saved, being born
again. This is the true essential of the Christian life. It is where
and how we are born into eternal life. Salvation begins when you trust
Jesus to do what He says He will do.
It’s the ultimate love
affair—one of total trust, love, and loyalty. It’s the ultimate
adventure—sparking an entirely new life, a new journey.
That’s where we’ll start off next time. I hope you’ll join me.