"The Meaning of 'Being Saved' and 'Becoming a Christian'"

The majority of Protestant Christians in America believes that "being saved" happens like this:

  1. You are "convicted of your sins." You become convinced that you have done so many bad things in your life that you have become unacceptable to God, and if you were to die physically right now, you would go straight to Hell.
  2. You confess all your sins to God, acknowledge your unworthiness and ask forgiveness. If you confess honestly and fervently intend never to commit those sins again, God grants forgiveness.
  3. You walk down the aisle during the invitational hymn in a worship service and say aloud that you believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and rose from the dead on the third day to be your Lord and Savior.
  4. You are baptized with water, preferably immersed. (Some Christians believe that baptism alone is what saves you.) After initiation by baptism, you are a member of Jesus' Church. Now, you are "saved" and a "Christian."

The above is an easy, commercial approach to "salvation" which, at best, may get a person started on the road to salvation, like a starting gun at the beginning of the race. At worst, this approach has turned many people away from Christianity forever because of a lack of substantive theology. This approach is centered on one emotional experience, the "day I was saved." It ignores the Biblical record of the salvation process, such as Paul's injunction in Philippians 2:12 to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

To become a Christian means to experience in one's whole being, over a period of time, the spiritual death and spiritual resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is the essence of Christ and to be a Christ-ian you have to experience it with him.

For the "majority Christian," you are saved from eternal damnation in Hell with the Devil, and you are saved to eternal life in Heaven with God. The problem is that salvation becomes completely future-oriented and life today takes on secondary significance, in contrast to many Biblical passages, such as Jesus' teaching in Matthew 6:34.

Working out your own salvation is a daily process in which you and God are partners. Are you saved? The more important question is: Will you live this day in the presence of God? Life lived in the presence of God IS Heaven, today and tomorrow. Life lived without the presence of God IS Hell, today and tomorrow. No one knows how it works after physical death.

For further information, contact Dr. Ray Dykes, 405-728-2844 or e-mail.