Some Christians need to lose their salvation… or at least their “definition of salvation”.
Our 21st-century church culture usually uses the term “salvation” to describe someone who walks down the isle on a Sunday morning, says a prayer at an altar. We say, “Did you hear about (insert name here)? He got saved last Sunday!”
Whether it happens in a church building… or at a Starbucks… that’s pretty much the width of meaning most Christians give the term. When people use “saved” in that way, they are talking about the “point in time” event that happens when someone comes to initial faith in Christ as their Savior. That’s certainly an appropriate way to use the term, but is that the only way we should understand “salvation”?
While in seminary, I had the opportunity to take several classes from Dr. Earl Radmacher. He is a well known theologian who has written about many topics over the years. Probably the most important thing I learned from him was the Biblical understanding of “salvation”.
To borrow some phraseology from Radmacher’s book (Salvation)… the Bible presents salvation in the following ways. At initial faith we are “saved from the penalty of sin” (justification). Then, over time, we are “saved from the practice of sin” (sanctification). Eventually, at the resurrection, we will be “saved from the presence of sin” (glorification). This is really how the Bible presents the term. We are initially “saved” and we keep getting “saved” for the rest of our lives. There’s a five-part series of videos that will allow you to hear it in Dr. Radmacher’s own words. Here’s the first one.
My understanding of “salvation” changed during my time with Dr. Radmacher. I no longer view “getting saved” as only a “point in time” event… but rather as a lifelong process.
From a Transitional Gospel point of view… this is a very important distinction. There are many people we read about in the gospels who were introduced to Jesus during His time here on earth. Some of them were already “saved”… I mean justification… before they met Jesus. When one of these recognized Him as Messiah… they got “saved”… I mean sanctification. Sometimes the text even uses the term “saved” for what happens to these people. Unfortunately, if someone’s definition of “salvation” is only as wide as justification… he may never consider the theologically valid option that these folks were really experiencing the process of “sanctification” when they met Christ.
In my next post… I’ll take a closer look at when Jesus met His first disciples in John 1:35-51. I’ll be challenging you to read it “transitionally”.
Did those guys get “saved” that day when they met Jesus?
I’m sure they did…