Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Are You Saved?

One of the classes I teach from time to time is titled “The Basics of Contemporary Christian Witness.” The scope of the course as taught at Central Seminary includes a study of the nature of salvation (especially as expressed in the Gospels), the missiology of the church through the ages, and an understanding of the missional church.

One of the papers required of the students is a personal statement of their soteriology or doctrine of salvation. Students sometimes argue that there is certainly only one approach to salvation, but the history of the Christian faith shows otherwise. How and why we are saved by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ has been interpreted in many ways in the history of the church. The doctrine has even led some Christian to persecute other Christians!

Each of us brings his or her own perspective to this doctrine today. Because of our background, the teachings to which we have been exposed, our study of the Bible, and our life experiences, we each develop our own understanding of salvation even if we have never fully articulated it.

My personal perspective on salvation has changed. In my experience, the idea of salvation has usually centered on either being saved from something or to something. For example, one is saved from the fires of Hell and/or saved to eternal life with God. Too often such approach comes down to an eternal “fire insurance policy” for the believer with little implication for life now.

It may be an oversimplification, but I am coming to see that I am saved for something. For me that something is the Kingdom of God (some prefer to call it the “Reign of God”). When Jesus was on the earth, he talked a lot about the kingdom: “it is already among you.” “It is coming,” “this is a sign of the kingdom.” With Jesus’ advent, the Kingdom of God broke into the world. That same kingdom is still breaking into the world today. It is an “already, but not yet” reality.

Believers are called to be citizens of that Kingdom. We are called out of life as we know it into life in a new culture or way of being. Our lives are reoriented with a new set of values, priorities, and opportunities. To me, this is a pretty good definition of salvation.


Eric Spivey said...

Ircel - Findley Edge in Greening of the Church spoke about this as well. He said - the gift of salvation and the call to ministry/mission are one and the same - can't have one without the other.

Ircel said...

Eric, thanks for this insight. A friend and I were discussing Edge a couple of weeks ago. He was really ahead of his time in his writing on church renewal.