Evidence for Salvation   3 comments

The essence of Christianity is narrow, for only the shed blood of Jesus Christ saves anyone. The expression of Christianity is very broad, for it affects every facet of our existence. Consider some of the Biblical terms for the Christian which highlight various facets of the outworkings of our faith.

Christian. Christian is a very popular present-day term with a wide variety of connotations. Actually, it is found only three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). The suffix “ian” is similar in meaning to “ist” (Methodist, Baptist, etc.) or the somewhat more pejorative “ite”. A Christian is one who is a follower of Christ or who has allegiance to Christ. The term was originally a perjorative affixed to Christians by non-believers, but that’s a history lesson we might discuss later.

Believer. A much more frequently employed term in the New Testament is believer (Acts 5:141 Timothy 4:10,12). We have already shown that belief must have some basis or content, so a believer is one who adheres to a particular system of beliefs, namely the teachings of the Bible. Then, in addition to a belief in the historical elements of our Lord’s life and death, a Christian believes in Christ Himself for salvation.

Follower. The gospels abound with references to following Jesus. Jesus invited men to follow Him (Mark 2:14), and Christians are said to be His followers:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-28).

As a follower, a Christian is one who not only believes in Christ, but who follows Him. This implies much more than a mere conversion experience, but a way of life. It means that we will aspire to be like Him.

Disciple. It refers not only to those of the 12 who followed Jesus (e.g. Matthew 5:1), but to those who were His disciples in other places at a time after His death, resurrection and ascension (Acts 11:26,29). Here a deeper level of commitment is implied, as well as a greater intimacy between the Master and the disciple. Primarily, a disciple is a learner and thus, his following Jesus is not out of curiosity but commitment.

Saint. The term saint is one which non-Catholics shy away from using, especially with reference to ourselves. We know that in eternity we shall be like Him, but at the present time this label makes us feel uneasy because it seems inappropriate. While total sanctification will only occur at His coming, the term saint reminds us that holiness is an essential characteristic of the Christian. This is why Peter reminded us of the divine command, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16) .

Brother. A vertical relationship with God also creates a horizontal one with all those who are saved. We frequently find Christians called brethren (Acts 6:3; 9:30; 10:23; Romans 16:14, etc.). Christians were never meant to be “Lone Rangers.” Each of us is a part of the body of Christ, with a vital function to perform and with certain needs which can only be met by others in the body (1 Corinthians 12).

Servant/Slave. By far, the least popular synonym for the Christian is that of servant or slave. Yet it is a very common word in Scripture and seems to have been one of Paul’s favorites when referring to himself (Romans 1:12 Corinthians 4:5Philippians 1:1, etc.). Jesus Himself was the supreme example of servanthood (Mark 10:45), underscoring this by washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-11). Leadership, in God’s Word, is assumed by servanthood (Matthew 20:27Mark 10:44).

The overall impact of all of these terms is that while the essence of the gospel is limited narrowly to the blood of Christ, the expression of our individual faith is boundless. The modern presentation of the gospel often generalizes the basis for one’s salvation, maximizing the temporal and eternal benefits while minimizing the obligations. This is totally backwards! We are only saved through faith in the death of Christ. That salvation must be entered on the basis of the objective facts of the gospel through the subjective experience of repentance and faith, and objectified by a life of obedience and discipleship.

So is that the gospel you believed? In today’s world, there are many other gospels, but most will not save (Galatians 1:6-9). The shed blood of Jesus Christ is not an element of the gospel, but the heart of it. Search your own heart for the basis of your eternal hope. If you are uncertain, affirm that you are a sinner, deserving of God’s eternal wrath. Submit yourself to God, relying only upon the work of Christ at Calvary for your forgiveness of sins and source of righteousness and eternal life. In the words of Paul, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Perhaps you are one of those who has thought of yourself as 75% saved (see earlier post). You believe about Jesus Christ and do many of the things Christians do (or don’t). But 75% is not enough in God’s book. Take Paul’s advice:

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5).

3 responses to “Evidence for Salvation

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  1. So far, I am very impressed with your theology. You are on the mark.


  2. You brought out a couple of things here that I have been trying to impress on my local church, which has not gone over well. 1. The now and the not yet…we are “being saved” and that glorification or complete salvation takes place at the resurrection. 2. That salvation does not occur based on raising a hand or filling out a card or even a public baptism. Both of these concepts are difficult for some people. I have since moved to a different Wesleyan church where these concepts have been embraced, and I am happy to see more of it here. Finally, I am not alone, nor out of my mind 🙂 I look forward to more of your post.

    Don’t expect much out of me, more than likely, I will not post until the end or middle of a semester. I am now in a counseling program, so they will come under the “psychology” menu. However, most everything I write comes down to transformation (i.e. progressive sanctification) and will have a theological flavor.


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