“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 NLT)
In yesterday’s post we looked at a man who had been lame for thirty-eight years, that Jesus healed, yet who was obviously not in a right relationship with Jesus.
It caused me to look at myself and many others who attend church regularly, serve in various positions, and jump through all the proverbial “hoops” of living a so-called “Christian” life, yet their life bears little, if any fruit. The man in yesterday’s post (see John 5) had a miraculous experience with Jesus, yet his heart was obviously unchanged.
What does it mean to be saved? What evidence is there that illustrates in and through my life that my heart, mind, and spirit are being transformed by the living God? I’m concerned that many have a long-standing or an emotional experience with God but fail to grasp the far-reaching implications of having an ongoing relationship with Him.
Like the man at the pool of Bethesda who had laid there for thirty-eight years, then miraculously been healed by Jesus, many today have an “experience” with Christ that is unforgettable and, on some levels even “miraculous,” yet doesn’t result in the transformation of life and character that should accompany a salvation experience with Jesus. Others seem to believe that their walk with Jesus happened through osmosis. What does that mean?
Often, when I ask how long someone has walked with the Lord, they say something like: “I’ve always believed. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been attending church.” That’s admirable but believing and attending don’t necessarily lead to repentance and submission to the authority of Christ in our lives, which are critical for salvation.
One of my Seminary Professors often said: “A text taken out of context becomes a pretext.” What does that mean? It essentially means that we can take a portion of Scripture and make it say most anything we want it to say if we separate it from the context of the whole of Scripture.
In the verse at the top of the page Paul uses confession and believing as the essential ingredients of salvation. Then in 2 Corinthians 7:10 he writes: “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.”
We are saved “from” sin “to” righteousness. What does that look like? Repentance, as I’ve often stated, means to turn from sin, not continue to dabble in sin. Yes, of course, as long as we’re in the flesh, we’ll have the capacity to sin, but our heart’s desire and determination is to pursue holiness and purity, realizing God’s goal for us is to not sin.
There’s a phrase I’ve heard across the years that continues to baffle me. “We sin more or less every day.” And my question is – why? It’s like saying: “I cheat on my wife more or less every day.” Or, “I steal from my company more or less every day.” It just doesn’t make sense. If my mindset is cheating, stealing, or sinning every day, how will I ever make the shift to pursuing Christ with my whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. You can’t have it both ways.
Being saved is a miraculous transformation initiated by God whereby we leave our old life of sin and shame and embrace our new life of pursuing Christlikeness. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone, a new life has begun!”
Food for thought.
Blessings, Ed 😊