The term “saved” is used many ways in the Bible. It’s easy to understand terms as one-dimensional. When we read that someone “believed” in Jesus… it is easiest to think of an “initial faith experience”, but that’s not always the case.
For many of the people in the gospels… their “faith” in Jesus was not when they began “believing” in God.
In the first chapter of John there is a quick succession of “first encounters” with Jesus. It begins in John 1:35 and continues through verse 51. Let’s take a quick look at these people and see if the text gives us any clue as to whether any of these people could have been justified “believers in God” prior to meeting Jesus.
The setting is “the wilderness”… the desert. John the Baptist is dressing very oddly, eating weird stuff, and saying some very strange things… all in a very remote and desolate place. John was either crazy… or he was a prophet sent from God. Many would conclude the former. No matter what people thought of him, the Baptist was saying things that piqued the interest of everyone in Israel.
John 1:35 (NASB95)
Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples…
The first two people we will look at are these two disciples of John the Baptist. First, let’s acknowledge something; these two were not just on a day trip to check out the freak show that John had become. The text says they were “disciples” of John the Baptist. What does that mean?
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”?
Following up on my last post… I’d like to take a look at some more examples of justified, Old Testament saints, being used by God to welcome The Messiah to the earth. In Luke 1 we are introduced to the parents of John the Baptist. Again… it is important to pay attention to the way people are described in the text. I believe it gives a clue to the content of their souls.
Luke 1:5–7 (NASB95)
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.
When God chose a couple to bring John the Baptist into the world… he chose two people who were “righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” These two people were people of faith… true believers in God… prior to their call to be the parents of John the Baptist.
I know this might be obvious… but I’m not sure people always pay attention to this context. Continue reading →
It’s about time we jump into the text… and get our feet wet in the gospels.
We’ve talked about context… and getting to know the neighborhood… and the promised Messiah. Now lets just look closely at the arrival of that Messiah. We’ll ask the question… “When little baby Jesus arrived, was there anyone, in faith, looking for Him”?
Matthew 1:18–19 (NASB95)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
You may have already noticed it. How is Joseph described? The text says he was “a righteous man”. How should we understand that description? There are a couple possible interpretations.Sometimes the term is used to describe those who think they are righteous… but they really aren’t (Matthew 9:11-13, Luke 15:7,Luke 18:9, Luke 20:20). These are the self-righteous folks who are more concerned with their outward appearance than their inner spirituality. Jesus warns us against being like these people (Matthew 23:27-28).Other times the word “righteous” is used, from God’s perspective, to describe the true spiritual state of someone. Continue reading →
Every text has a context. People who rethink scripture are those who are able to put their preconceived notions at bay, and consider the context of the text just long enough for the Holy Spirit to confirm or deny their understanding.
Have you allowed yourself to rethink what you think you already know about the gospels… or do you know what the stories mean before you read them… because you “heard a sermon on that” or “read a book about that”. Continue reading →