Our discussion seems to have taken us into the territory of what it means to be ‘saved’. Talking to an Evangelical friend she gave the clearest and most straightforward answer: ‘You have to receive Jesus as your personal Saviour.’ When I asked how she thought we did this, she said ‘repent and call Him Lord’. That was certainly a good Biblical answer and reminded me of Bosco, which was nice; indeed when she asked why I had a nice smile, I had to admit I was thinking of a commentator on this blog. Her response was: ‘Well if he makes you smile like the Jess, that can’t be a bad thing.’
Nor was, or is it. It set me to thinking of whether I was not making heavy weather of something quite straightforward, but then I thought no, because we have been discussing some of the points which came to Christians after they had received Christ, not before, so in that sense, we are all at a later stage of the discussion.
I was not sure whether Bosco or my friend Helen would appreciate that, because I was not sure that although we are speaking the same language, we are using it in the same way. Helen certainly seemed convinced that having received Jesus as her personal Saviour she was ‘saved’. When I asked what she meant, she said it meant she was going to Heaven when she died. She asked what I meant. I want to share that answer with the community here.
I said that yes, I was saved. I had received Jesus and declared my faith in Him as my Redeemer; He had died for my sins, and I owned Him as Lord, so I partook of that once and for all act of atonement (it is here I felt most as though I was not quite on secure ground, so do feel free to help 🙂 ). I was, I said, ‘a new creation’ in Him. I am being saved, by holding fast in Him, and. being justified by His blood, I hoped to be saved from the wrath to come.
It seemed to me that unless one read the first passage from 2 Corinthians, in the light of the other two passages (links above) you got a one-dimensional account of what salvation was.
For example, if you were ‘saved’ did that mean you could do nothing sinful (one ancient heresy) or did it mean (an even worse one) that nothing you did could be seen as sinful. Or did it mean that if we did something wrong after receiving the Lord, you ‘lost’ your salvation and could never regain it? But if that was the case, why should anyone bother to regret a sin and try to make themselves right with Christ again? That seemed, I said, a real obstacle in the way of a repentant sinner. Indeed, it reminded me of the Emperor Constantine, who only became a Christian at the end of his life in case he did anything wrong after baptism.
It also seemed to me a very individualistic doctrine of salvation which made little sense of the words of Christ and the Apostles about a church and a community of believers being the Body of Christ. There was, it seemed to me, a difference between an assurance of salvation – that is the hope, and a certainty – after all, if one had the latter, what the point of a Last Judgement.
For me, and for Catholic and Orthodox, salvation is a dynamic process, not a one-off.