Between the Blurred Extremes

Between the Blurred Extremes

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the scripture and how it describes what salvation is. First, let me say that I am personally 100% sure of my own standing before God on this subject. However, due to various conversations with different people and materials that I have read, I just want to expound on the subject a bit. To me, there seems to be a wild extreme between the opinions of people that I have discussed it with. Now, I also want to be clear that I am not condemning anyone for their beliefs… I am simply thinking out loud to help my own perspective. If that in some way helps you, then that is a good thing. At the very least, it is good to examine ourselves in the light of what the Word teaches us… right?

It seems to me that this subject tends to bring out an extreme reaction in people. Maybe that is because we use our own core belief about salvation to help reinforce our own salvation experience? If that were the case then we would have to passionately defend our view to satisfy our own need for assurance. Makes sense to me. Now, let’s examine the two extremes that I encounter the most.

The first camp that I run into is the “belief only” group. [Romans 10:9] This is a simplified way to view it but I am sure you will understand the concept. Many people and groups of people strictly believe that salvation is simply an act of the will in believing through faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He did indeed rise from the grave after being crucified… period. The second camp would be the people who believe the initial statement of group one -BUT- they tend to add conditions to the equation. This group of folks think that simple faith and belief is not proof enough of a true and genuine salvation experience. We will call this group the “conditions apply” group. [1 Corinthians 15:2] I hope that label does not offend anyone but in my opinion this is what it amounts to. Group two looks at group one as shallow and “not willing to pay the price.” Group one looks at group two as people who desire to judge them instead of allowing God to be the judge of their soul salvation. Interesting isn’t it? I have literally heard certain religious leaders say that those “kumbaya folks are all going to hell.” Hmmm, that does sound judgmental to me.

Now, this is a subject which we could write volumes about and some have! To try to put a synopsis together based upon my own scriptural study, personal conviction, and a little common sense thrown in… I believe that the truth lives in a place between these to extremes. I am a Baptist missionary and I have counseled quite a few people on the way to receive Christ as your personal savior. I have also been in settings where I listened to other people do the same. My personal belief is that salvation comes as the result of hearing the Gospel message presented in a clear understandable manner [1 Corinthians 1:21]… the hearer executing an act of their personal will to believe the Gospel message and being willing to confess Christ openly as their savior before man [Romans 10:9]… after which the Holy Spirit of God seals them until the day of redemption [Ephesians 4:30]. I find that the extremists know specific scriptures to refute those who disagree with them but disallow other scriptures which seem to contradict their view. It becomes a matter of being right and pride takes over. The longer I live the more I try to look at the Bible as a holistic book of Truth. When I openly confess that I do not and cannot understand the mind of God, I feel much freer. I will do my best to understand the core concepts of the scripture and not focus too critically on one specific bent while ignoring the opposing point of view. I also try to keep an open mind to what I may not understand and seek the leadership of the Spirit of God to understand more. I am simply relating to you my own opinion.

I will say though to my friends in camp two to be careful to not add things to the salvation process which cannot be quantified. “If” you desire to add conditions to the experience, you may just put yourself in the position of judge and we have no right to do that. Only One has that right and none of us are qualified to take His place. Now, to my friends in the first camp, be careful to not understate the fact that a true turning of the will is more complicated than simply “repeating after me” or “raising your hand.” Do your very best as a herald of the Gospel to give people a clear and informed presentation of the Gospel which the hearer can understand in their cultural context. Yet, I will also say that many have come to believe in Christ through repeating a heart felt prayer of repentance and turning to God with a sincere attitude. Who are you to question that?

Ok, to wrap this up… let me say that if we can all (as heralds of the Gospel) just seek to find a healthy balance in our views of salvation, we can accomplish much more than arguing with each other about who is right. Another powerful statement that should be made is that we all just need to do more than we are currently doing to spread the Good News that has been entrusted to us and those who are not sowing the seed at all, need to start… amen.

Oh, the picture used in this posting is not pointing out lost children… I just used it as a metaphor about how we blur the lines of reality about soul salvation. The photo is actually of a group of precious children who gathered for a OCC distribution in Braila a couple of weeks ago.

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