Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What on earth am I saved from?

So many folks think that if they pray "the prayer" they are assured a place in Heaven with little, if any, further attempt to live as a Christ follower.  I have recently been asked by two people about my thoughts on "being saved."  I have never seen "once saved, always saved" in the scriptures, and it is very easy to tell someone they are saved after they pray the prayer of salvation, but I continue to come across scriptures that speak differently to me.

Don't get me wrong.....I love this age of grace that we live in.  Oh, the mercy and grace of a loving, forgiving Savior!!  Where would I be except for the grace of Christ?  Not here, writing this blog.  Nope.  No way.  I was doomed.  Then, in 1992, at a low point in life, Jesus touched me, and I grabbed hold of Him, and I continue to cling to Him for my very life!  But my thoughts consider where might I be if I stopped clinging, if I let go of my hold on Him, if I stopped running the race.  Actually, I shudder at the thought, but I know the Lord wants to drive home an important message to my heart.

(All scriptures are from the New King James Version)
I want to start in Romans because that is the place I start when I talk to people about salvation.  We've all sinned and we all fall short of God's glory (3:23) and the price we must pay for our sin is death (6:23a).  But because God loves us so very much, even though we are sinners, He sent His Son Jesus to us as a gift so that we might receive eternal life (5:8, 6:23b). All we need to do is verbally confess Jesus Christ (God Himself born of a virgin as a baby, crucified, dead and buried) and believe that God raised Him from the dead, then we shall be saved (10:9-10). 

Because God loves Israel so very much, we are asked to pray to God for Israel so that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1)    Salvation is very simple. We must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and we will be saved. (Acts 16:30)  Now, I know someone is going to bring up Luke 10:20 where the 70 who were sent out returned and were amazed and joyful that the demons were subject to them in Jesus' name, and Jesus told them not to rejoice over that, but to rejoice because their names were written in heaven.  I believe that because Jesus said this, through His exclusive relationship with the Father, He was releasing revelation of their lives to be recorded to demonstrate to every reader throughout the ages that the promised reward (their name written in heaven) is greater than operating in the gifts (their authority over demons).  (Remember, in the end, prophesying and casting out demons in Jesus' name is of no benefit if the Bridegroom says He doesn't know me and does not allow me entrance to the wedding.)

As I study the book of Revelation and the letters to the seven churches, I see the common phrase, "to him who overcomes".  God has given eternal promises to him who overcomes:  he will eat from the tree of life; he will not be hurt by the second death; he will receive some of the hidden manna and a white stone with a new name on it; he will receive power over the nations and Jesus will give him the morning star; he will be clothed in white garments, his name will not be blotted from the Book of Life and Jesus will confess this one's name before God and the angels; Jesus will make him a pillar in the temple of God and Jesus will write on him His new name; the overcomer will sit with Jesus on His throne. (Rev. 2 and 3)

So, what am I saved from on this side of eternity?  Heartache, trials, tribulations, troubles, death?  No, of course not. These things are common to all men.  So, if I am saved, what am I saved from?   Maybe it is I shall be saved IF I love Jesus and cling to Him unto death...if I finish running the race toward the Prize...if I am an overcomer. Salvation means I am saved from God's wrath and punishment for sin, from hell, the pit, the second death and the grave because Jesus took my sins and I put my trust and promise in His work on the cross, every day clinging to Him so that when I step into eternity, my debt has been paid and Jesus declares me to be pure and spotless, without sin.  But the "penalty for sin" must be paid by everyone who enters eternity who has not been washed clean by the blood of Jesus; those who choose not to put their faith in Christ's death; those who decide the race is too hard, who quit and decide to run an easier race; those who get mad at the other runners and refuse to run with them, etc.  No matter the reason, they don't finish the race on the road to salvation in Christ and they die and are required to pay the price of their sin.

Again today I came across the following scripture that confirms to me that we must overcome and stay the course to the end if we expect to receive the hope/the promise/our salvation (v. 23).
Colossians 1:19-23
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven,

Hmmmmmm.   Such food for thought.   Just one more thing to consider:  Is the white stone with the new name on it, our new name and that is the name that is written in the Lamb's Book of Life?  If so, our name is not written in the Book until we overcome and win the Prize.  But then, because God already sees the end, like Jesus knew about the 70, perhaps He has penned my name in the pages of his Book since before the foundation of the world (because He knew I would be an overcomer)?  Oh my!  Such a big picture and such a little brain, I have.  Have fun!!