The question of how do I be saved has always puzzled humanity. The roadmap to salvation is twisted and filled with obstacles when we keep focusing on how we get saved as opposed to who saves.
Our self-help shelves at the bookstore are booming with solutions on how to become a better parent, how to be successful in business, how to save your marriage, how to get fit, how to lose weight: the list of How To programs is extensive.
There are always solutions of “how to” and all of them involve a step-by-step program that “if you follow” will succeed. When we as believers transfer these ideas of “How to”, to fit salvation, we come up short. There are many religions where you can work to be saved, be a better person by work and deeds, but Christianity is not one of them.
God turns our concept of getting our self saved upside down and makes it not about us and our doings but about Him and his work.
How to be saved is not a long list of items accomplished that get a tick when completed. Neither is it church membership determined. It is based on a relationship with Jesus Christ. We are saved when we leave the saving to God and recognise that Saving is all God’s work. We can never work our way through a “How to be saved list”: of behaviours, diet, theological knowledge.
We are saved by God’s grace, not our own accomplishment; and that goes counter to all we know in this world of self-driven performance living. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, when we hold such opinions, we are diminishing and disregarding what Jesus did on the cross for us.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians2:8-9 NIV)
The challenge of not having our salvation earned by our own doings is something my baptism students often struggle to comprehend. For how can such a radical concept be compared to our society where we are rewarded for our actions? It goes against our understanding not to follow a formula like a good student (more study+ hard work=good grades) and obtain the entrance into Gods Kingdom by being good Christians?
With all the rules we set up for ourselves, it’s easy to think following them is the way to get God’s approval and love.
When we make our faith about rules, we easily get lost in the details and in our very human concept of saving ourselves. After all, we learn early in life to rely on ourselves, follow the rules and if we want to get anywhere we have to do it, and sort out our own mess.
Just as the Bible is clear that salvation is God’s doing, it also states that we need to repent to be saved. Does that contradict being saved by God’s grace?
When you grow up a Christian, how much should you repent your ways when you are already living in faith? Perhaps repentance is to be understood not so much in view of all our wrong doings, but perhaps it’s repentance from being under the false belief, that we can save ourselves, by our own works and lifestyle and behaviour? For when we believe that we can save ourselves, we are blaspheming against God, as we are saying that we don’t really need God’s grace and redemptive plan as we can just be good Christians and follow the Bible teachings and let Jesus be concerned with those who really need his help to sort out their salvation. But salvation is 100% Gods work, and no amount of church work, good behaviour, diet, worship styles, dress code, Bible study or scripture recital is a shortcut to salvation. Repentance is needed when our view of salvation is distorted, and God’s redemptive plan is falsely presented as something you and I have to earn.
John 3:14-16 …the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
How to be saved? Know that God isn’t looking for a checklist from you, but covers you with his grace. Nothing and no-one can take that away. Believe in Jesus.
Kirsten Oster-Lundqvist is a Pastor and Communication & Media Director for the South England Conference in the British Union Conference
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6158