Some Christians need to lose their “definition of salvation”.
Our 21st-century church culture usually uses the term “salvation” to describe someone who says a prayer at an altar, or raises a hand in response to an invitation. We say things like, “Did you hear about (insert name here)? He got saved last Sunday!”
Whether it happens in a church building, at a summer camp, or at the corner table in a coffee shop… 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 for my Master’s degree, I had the opportunity to take several classes from Dr. Earl Radmacher. He was a well known theologian who wrote about many topics over the years. 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. I’ve included a link below to the first installment.
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. Many of them were already saved (I mean justified through faith) before they met Jesus. When one of these recognized Jesus as Messiah… they got saved again (I mean sanctified). The text even uses the term “saved” for what happens to these people.
Unfortunately, if people’s definition of “salvation” is only as wide as justification… they may never consider the option that these folks had already been justified and were experiencing the salvation 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…