How we get salvation wrong

I was listening to a radio preacher yesterday talking about the nature of salvation and its dependence on believing the right things.

I know the words he read in Romans to support this contention. But I don’t see it. I think we get the means of salvation confused with salvation itself. I think John Wesley was on the right track when he argued that salvation is holiness, salvation is the restoration of the image of God, salvation is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, salvation is freedom from sin, slavery, and death.

Faith in Jesus Christ is not itself salvation. Faith in Jesus Christ is a means to salvation — Wesley would say it is the beginning of salvation. When we trust, believe in, and confess Christ, we enter into salvation, which transforms us.

“I am saved” is a true statement. “Salvation freed me from addiction” strikes me as a better and deeper truth. Here are some more experiments with that kind of language:

  • Salvation empowered me to love.
  • Salvation inspired me to forgive rather than seek revenge.
  • Salvation gave me strength to hold up despite my troubles.
  • Salvation shielded me from despair when I lost my job.

Jesus accomplished our salvation on Calvary. We enter into that salvation by faith and grow more and more into it. And that salvation itself acts on us and changes us.

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3 thoughts on “How we get salvation wrong

  1. “salvation is holiness, salvation is the restoration of the image of God, salvation is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, salvation is freedom from sin, slavery, and death.”

    Amen! That is why repentance from sin and turning to God is so important. Repentance at the new birth and ongoing repentance. The core message of Jesus Christ is “Repent and believe the Gospel”. Believing is not just mentally acknowledging the facts about Jesus Christ. Believing is living them out, putting them into practice. It is what I like to call be-living.

  2. Or, as a now deceased friend put it: “When we believe that Jesus died for sin and was raised from the dead, it happens in us.”

    Jim Lung, with deep gratitude to Laurence Alspaugh, R.I.P.

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