When the ‘salvation’ of God is understood as merely being ‘saved from Hell’ so that we can go to Heaven, and that being ‘saved’ happens when a person:
- Believes in Jesus
- Accepts Jesus as their person savior
- Prays a ‘sinner’s prayer
- Goes forward or raises their hand
- Gets water baptized
- Confesses with their mouth Jesus as Lord
then, what does that ‘saved’ person NEED TO DO beyond ‘getting saved’ (so they can go to Heaven)?
However, the Bible does not speak about salvation in this way. The Bible does not talk about salvation as a means to escape Hell and go to Heaven. The salvation in the Bible is a salvation from sin. And the sin we need to be saved from the most is the sin that is inside of us. We all need to be saved from who we are, people who sin. We are incredibly valuable and worthy of love, but we need to be changed from the inside out. This is the salvation written about in the Bible, the salvation Jesus came to make possible.
‘Life’ is not in a place (i.e. Heaven). Life is experienced in a way of living. Live is experienced when we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and when we love people the way God loves them. Sins bring the experience of ‘death.’ Love brings the experience of ‘life.’
This is why becoming more and more like Jesus here and now comes closer to defining biblical salvation than where a person resides after they die. This is how the biblical writers spoke about salvation. And this kind of salvation motivates people to pursue Jesus, to turn away from sin, to do the things that allow God the opportunity to thoroughly transform them from the inside out! It motivates them to practice ‘life transformation activities.’ Practicing biblical forgiveness is one of the six life transformation activities.*
This way of thinking about ‘salvation’ moves real Christians to “…work out their salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13 And what is God’s “good pleasure?” It is not simply to re-locate us to a better place to reside after we die, but to change us, to make us like Jesus. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son (Jesus), so that He (Jesus) would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:29
If salvation is simply a relocation project accomplished when a person ‘believes’ in Jesus, then there is very little motivation to do anything to ‘work out our salvation.’ But if salvation is from sin, the sin that is inside of us, and if that salvation begins and continues with a faith in Jesus that compels us to want to become like Him, then we will eagerly work to do the things that allow God to transform us into His image.
Let your desire to be like Jesus compel you to practice His forgiveness.
*The Six Activities of Life Transformation are:
- Exposure to and the assimilation of truth
- Healing through the practice of all aspects of biblical forgiveness
- Deliverance from demonic influences
- Personal experiences with God
- Making protective choices
- Creating nurturing environments
To see more, go to http://www.forgivenessministries.com/pdshop/shop/category.aspx?catid=6.