Summary: A message of how our salvation is not something relegated to the past; something that happened to us "once", but is actively being worked on in the present.
We Christians talk a lot about our being saved, don’t we? But have you ever noticed that it always seems to be in the past tense? ‘Have you been saved?’ ‘When were you saved?’ I think the more appropriate, and perhaps the most accurate way of asking about one’s salvation would be, ‘Are you being saved today?’
Let me explain so that you won’t think I am just splitting hairs for argument’s sake. Our salvation is not something that happened to us once and then it was over. Our salvation is something that is actively happening to us every moment of our lives. It isn’t something we have done; it is something we are doing.
To ask when we were saved, would denote that it is over and done with. It renders our salvation nothing more than an equation that pretty much omits the need for any personal relationship with God.
Today, I would like to talk about, not when we were saved, but how we continue to be saved. And I am going to do that using the analogy of a set of instructions.
When I first bought my mandolin, I had never played one before. With that mandolin, I bought a couple of ‘how to play the mandolin’ books. They were very specific and gave detail instructions and a lot of pictures as to where I put my fingers. I studied those books and tried my best to get proficient on this instrument.
But there was a disconnect there. I knew what the book said, but just couldn’t seem to understand how to do it. Finally, I cornered one guy at the music store and he sat down with me and stepped me through it, explaining the details as he went. And then he had me do it while he watched and corrected me. And then he told me something very valuable. He told me that unless I practiced it every day, I would never get it down pat, and I would eventually lose everything I had learned about it. In other words, use it or lose it.
There are many people who have learned the rules of salvation, but are not experiencing salvation as an ongoing event. They have read the Bible, have a basic knowledge of what salvation is, but they have never learned how to have a personal relationship with Jesus in their salvation. And when there is no personal relationship with Jesus, all we have left is religiosity.
I spoke last week about how we react when a problem comes into our lives. The first thing we should do is run to God and fully rely on His help, but the first thing we tend to do is jump on it ourselves and try to take care of the problem.
We have a natural tendency to control everything in our lives, including our own salvation. We have been saved – in the past. Now, we depend on our own choices to make our lives what we want them to be. If we are involved in sin, and happen to like what we are doing, we think God is fine with it because we are fine with it. That is not working out our own salvation, but paving our own road to hell.
Paul warns us about this in PHILIPPIANS 2:12;
‘My Christian friends, you have obeyed me when I was with you. You have obeyed even more when I have been away. You must keep on working to show you have been saved from the punishment of sin. Be afraid that you may not please God.’
Paul is telling us that just because we received Jesus once in the past does not mean we are automatically kept safe from sin today. He is telling us that we must continually strive to please God in all we do and in how we live.
Let me use another analogy to make this point clear. If you eat breakfast on Monday, you have energy that carries you to about noon. But if you do not eat lunch, you will be run down, tired, and famished by dinnertime. To keep your body running at peak performance, you must need a continual intake of food, which provides energy to your body.
You cannot receive Jesus ‘back then’ and never again pursue more of Him in your daily life. You must have a continual intake of Christ into your heart, and that continual intake is the only thing that provides us with the personal relationship we need with Jesus.
One of my biggest pet peeves is to see people claiming to be Christian, going to church every time the doors are open, but instead of reading and studying the Bible, they choose to read every book they can get their hands on that is ‘about’ the Bible.