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Summary: While we have often heard the very basics of gWhat must I do to be saved?h, I think what perhaps is lending to some deal of confusion is a lack of understanding of the full Gospel -- and I donft mean the Pentecostal experience.

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In the Melanesian islands of the South Pacific during WWII, the natives watched closely as the American and British engineers came in and built airstrips. The islanders were amazed to see that when the airstrips were completed, planes began to arrive filled with cargo: food, building materials, machinery, even vehicles. This, they decided, was something they wanted in on.The Melanesians deduced, that if they built airstrips, then planes would come to them, too, likewise bringing cargo. They accordingly hacked makeshift runways out of the jungle and built mock-up control towers out of grass and mud. They put fires along the sides of the runways, and put a man in the grass-hut control tower, with two coconut halves on his head for headphones–he’s the controller–they rigged antennas out of bamboo and then they waited for the airplanes to land. As far as they could see they were doing everything right. The form was perfect. It looked exactly the way it was supposed to. But it didn’t work. No airplanes ever came. Nevertheless many “cargo cults” have sprung up across the islands and exist to this day.

Are we making the mistake of the Melanesians and building an imitation grace? While we have often heard the very basics of “What must I do to be saved?”, I think what perhaps is lending to some deal of confusion is a lack of understanding of the full Gospel — and I don’t mean the Pentecostal experience. Indeed once a person is convinced he or she is in peril from some great, future disaster, those people will generally accept that they need a Savior. This absolute focus on the initial act of accepting the need and the remedy has, however, created a very dangerous quasi religion within a religion, making the Truth a lie (Romans 1:25). –It is probably best to establish here at the beginning that it is not Christ who needs to be accepted by us but we who need to be accepted by the Father. While we may accept the good news (2 Corinthians 11:4) or truth (1 Timothy 1:15), it becomes rather arrogant to presume that Jesus should become acceptable to us. I know it is only semantics, but an unhealthy trend is becoming wide-spread because of a lack of specifics. Some use this as a loophole to say that all that is required to be saved is accepting the person of Jesus Christ, when the reality is that being saved includes repentance. It’s like saying I’m going to go to the gate at the airport where my flight is leaving. Aren’t you boarding for the flight? Oh no! I’m just going through the gate!“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13)

Salvation is not a destination to abide within, but a journey to be traveled.

In the Old Testament, “save” is from the Hebrew [2421] chayah and means to be liberated or to be victorious. In the New Testament, the Greek word is [4982] sozo meaning to rescue from penalty, danger or destruction. The redemption of the jailer and his family in Acts 16 exemplifies both the Christian’s need to make the lost aware of the destruction that lies ahead of them and the redemption available to them in Christ.

Paul frequently referred to salvation as present. That was his faith confession, because he also knew that we were traveling toward salvation. “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11). 2nd Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to (lit. toward) salvation”.

This also tells us there’s more. We must also convey God’s desire that all men be saved and that they come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4). ‘That they “come” to the knowledge’ describes a journey, the Greek word [2064] erchomai meaning to move from one place to another. Paul uses a conjunction to join two separate things. Using the conjunction ‘and’ he employs grammatical logic, meaning that in order for the whole statement to be true the statement on each side of the conjunction must be true. A person can indeed be saved, but God’s whole desire is not satisfied unless they are saved and are journeying toward Truth — “not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on” (Philippians 3:12).

It is vitally important that we remember that all of us are very unique, with different life experiences and different needs and motivations. As such we each have our own path to follow, each intricately tailored for us by God (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 139:13-14). It is folly to think that as complex as God’s creation is, the straight and narrow path is travelled identically by every individual. We must be careful not to try to compel others to walk the same way we are walking. Paul makes this plain in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” This does not contradict Jesus as the only door into the Kingdom (John 10:9; John 14:6). Do not limit God by missing the truth of these statements. When Jesus, in John 14:6, said He is the way, the Greek there is [3598] hodos which means a way (i.e. manner) of thinking, feeling, deciding. That’s why Paul told us “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2) These verses are clear, you can’t even start the journey without a decision to make the whole journey. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:23-26)

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