To see part 1 of this series, click here.
I used to think that studying the Bible for the purpose of pursuing theology, was for the scholars, rabbis, theologians and those who felt called to that type of in-depth study.Â Now I see it as essential to every believer because a personâ€™s theology (knowledge of God) and then belief in that theology, leads to their praxis (how they live their lives day to day).Â For me it has become an issue of life or death when it comes to life and death following this age.Â My previous post, which was the intro to this blog series, frames what I am talking about in a broad sense.
And in the Christiandom world, I have found that our understanding of salvation can be a significant â€œsacred cowâ€ when it comes to our belief system.Â Why?Â Well, for good reason because much of our belief system revolves around this one subject and much of life flows from our reality of how we see it.Â And if our core perspective of salvation isnâ€™t what we thought it was, then there is quite a shift in our belief system as a whole.Â My hope is to provoke a hunger to pursue the Scriptures on this subject alongside the Holy Spirit, and break it down in light of Godâ€™s mission and the Messianic expectation seen from the fall of man to the restoration of all things at the end of this age.Â A helpful blog series I did earlier that would help to preface this series, is Kingdom Vision Unto Mission Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
So, salvation is obviously a major subject and touches sensitive areas in the heartâ€™s of people when discussed because of how it relates to our eternal destiny…or the destiny of loved ones that are living or have now passed away.Â But I wanted to take a shot at Biblically addressing this subject in this series because of the misunderstanding I now feel that I had, as I look in the rearview mirror of my life.Â If my understanding was not as correct as I had hoped it would be, then â€œOh crap!â€ came to my mind, in light of how I discipled others, and really how the function of the Church is intended to operate as a whole.Â Why?Â Because if once-saved-always-saved wasnâ€™t true, then that shifts a lot in how I perceive, operate and function in life as a Christian.Â
I wanted to allow myself to be shaken in my current understanding and pre-conceived ideas about salvation if it was founded falsely, and I didnâ€™t want to blindly continue to walk out another person’s understanding on the subject.Â If I was going to lead or encourage others in truth, then the subject of salvation was not only significant but essential, because the ultimate end of that discussion is dwelling with God forever or ending up in Gehenna/Lake of Fire.Â What I didnâ€™t want was to form my theology of salvation around sentiment in order to â€œmake a wayâ€ for all my loved ones to somehow â€œmake it through the pearly gates.â€Â The more I study the Word and talk to the Lord around this subject, the more I realize how my theology of salvation was distorted when it came to the younger years of my life.Â I had formed the scriptures concerning salvation around human sentiment and had not established them in the truth of the Word.Â
Over several years I have cried out for Him to uncomfort my fleshly comforts and then comfort me with The Comforter (Holy Spirit).Â My heart ached in thinking of being one of those who would say â€œâ€˜Peace, peaceâ€™ when there is no peaceâ€ (Jer. 6:14; Ez. 13:10,15,16; 2 Peter 2:17-22) because someoneâ€™s (a believerâ€™s) inner life is filled with wickedness and the Holy Spirit is chastised and/or ignored for seeking to interrupt life, cleanse their heart and help them endure to the Day of Jesusâ€™ return with righteousness in sight.Â Personally, I wanted to know the truth of the Word and found that I needed to wrestle with this subject for myself in the place of prayer and study, and not just take what all others had to say.Â There are massive implications depending on what the truth of the Word is saying surrounding the subject of salvation (hell/Gehenna or His Kingdom), and I didnâ€™t want to be satisfied with a false sense of security.Â Or lead others in the same way (which I had done and God met with me about it…I now tremble in communicating around this subject).Â Lord, help me!!
To finish up this post, the subject of salvation in my younger years was really a simple equation. You were to say a prayer of confession as a sinner (Rom. 3:23), because sin equaled death (Rom. 6:23). And then you were to acknowledge Jesus as Lord while believing in your heart (Rom. 10:9,10,13) that Jesus had paid the price for your sin, through death on the cross (Rom. 5:8).Â As a young person in my church it was essential to have memorized the Roman Road (which I just laid out), in order to lead many to a distinct moment in time where there was a conversion experience.Â Once you had walked out the equation given, you were â€œin.â€Â Nothing could then â€œseparate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus..â€ (Rom. 8:39), meaning you were eternally secure in your salvation and you had a one-way ticket to float on a cloud in heaven for all of eternity no matter what you did.Â Unless it was â€œreally bad,â€ and then maybe you might not make it.Â But more than likely you did make it to the pearly gates and would just â€œescape through the flamesâ€ (1 Cor. 3:15).Â Â
Side Note: Similar to my previous post concerning creation and eschatology, there was ambiguity surrounding this subject.Â I actually welcomed the ambiguity because what you donâ€™t know wonâ€™t hurt you, right? Not sure about that.
WHY THE SPIRIT?
So, according to my past, once salvation was sealed up and you were â€œin,â€ you now had received the Holy Spirit who was the guarantee of your eternal security in heaven until the rapture occurred.Â He was basically ignored beyond that understanding and didnâ€™t really play any significant role in the normal everyday life as far as I could tell.Â And even after I stepped over into the charismatic side of western christianity (speaking in tongues, healings, etc), the Spirit served as a means by which to access stuff from God strictly to serve my current life now, as an end in itself, unto glorifying God.Â And the Holy Spirit really didnâ€™t have a eschatological (end-times) purpose beyond just being the reason by which we would get caught up to Jesus when the moment came.Â
Side Note: I don’t have the time to expound on the apostles and early church fathers view of eschatology, but it is worthy of the time given to it. Recently Dave Willcock blogged a little around it. A great resource is also the Ante-Nicene Fathers writings.
Now the Spirit of God serves a far bigger vision in my understanding, and is deposited for the sake of helping me endure to the end with my heart given in full faith to what is ahead in the next age…that I might be saved.Â The Spirit really is the grace of God, given for me to access, that I might have the strength to be a sojourner/foreigner in this age (1 Pet. 2:11), as well as to be a witness to the coming age (1 Cor. 2:4). The only way that I can live like I am in the Day (next age following Jesus return), when I am really in the Night (this age of death), is only but by the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 5:4,5,8).Â Whether it be through giving me samplings of what the coming resurrection will look like (no sickness and disease) through healing, casting out demons (demonstrating how they wonâ€™t be in the coming Kingdom), prophecy (encouraging the Body to endure and not grow weary in doing good) or walking out the fruits of the Spirit (which are the values of the coming age and the Kingdom that has not yet come).Â The Spirit is given that we are reminded of the past death and resurrection (Jesus), the coming resurrection and Kingdom, and restoration of all things, that we might set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Messiah Jesus (1 Pet. 1:13).
I wanted to take a moment to briefly highlight the Holy Spirit and what I see as His purpose in our walk through this age, because it connects deeply with my view on salvation.Â Iâ€™m sure this will be highlighted as I continue through this series.
Well, in future posts I will begin to work through the Word of God surrounding this subject, but wanted to make sure I prefaced it with my experiences of the past, in order to give others a way of relating to why I have grown such a passion for the subject of salvation. Without that it just becomes another subject to dialogue around. And for me this isnâ€™t just another side subject but core to any who might call themselves His. So I wanted to frame it properly from my past perspectives. See you next time!
March 25, 2010
Nice! I can't wait to get to the Praxis class…I completely agree and look forward to reading more.
March 25, 2010
I am really excited to hear more on this topic! Thanks for walking through this, Richee. This is a topic that I have always wrestled with and is somehing that I have felt lead to research more deeply recently. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts and findings. :)