Just like the word Church is a verb and not a noun - saved is a concept that is a verb, not a noun. This fact has escaped many of the Reformers that somehow interpreted the idea that it was a noun- a one-time action. If it was a noun and if we did nothing at all really to obtain it on our own- then why are we here on earth? Why did Christ give up his life on the cross? Through today’s readings and discussion, it will become very clear that our salvation is a verb- it is a process and something that is not a noun or single event.
A Church is meeting a house for the faithful as well as the way we live our life-our ministry. There is a strange parallel between the word Church and the word saved. Our fellow Protestant Christians have turned this word into a noun or an event. They ask have you been saved? I would like to ask them how can you work out their salvation in one event? If this were the case, we would really have little on our part to do anything correct? For more clues on this matter let us look at word saved (past tense), being saved (present), and shall be saved (future tense)
First, the word Saved
We Have Been Saved (2Timothy 1:9)
9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
- Ananias said to Paul, "Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins" (Acts 22:16). So Paul, as soon as he obeyed, had his sins washed away. He was saved.
- Paul said to the Corinthians, "You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified..." (1Corinthians 6:11) They were saved.
- Paul says of God our Saviour, "He saved us..." (Titus 3:4-5). That's past tense, isn't it?.
- A little earlier there in Titus, Paul says, "The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men" (Titus 2:11)
Second, we are being saved
We Are Being Saved (1Corinthians 1:18)
There is a sense in which God is still saving each and every believer in the Church. In this sense, salvation is equated with the believer's growth and perseverance. Henceforth, this concept takes out the entirety of the belief that being saved is a single event or act.
- Paul spoke to the Corinthians of "those who are being saved" (2Corinthians 2:15). Here we do not have a past tense. We have the word "saved" used in a present and ongoing sense.
- Paul tells the Philippians, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you..." (Philippians 2:12-13). Here we see salvation presented as something being worked for by us in synergy with God. It is not all over and done with.
- Note the implication of this question, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:1-3).
- Another telling statement, "be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure..." (2Peter 1:10)
- John says that "the blood of Christ cleanses us..." (1John 1:7). Past sins were forgiven when we became Christians, but further sins since then need to be forgiven too. Forgiveness and salvation continue as we walk in the light.
Third, We Shall Be Saved (Romans 5:9-10)
There is a sense in which salvation is a future event. In this sense, salvation is equated with the second coming of Christ. However, here the idea of being saved was for the people who were still on earth when Jesus came for his Second Coming.
- Jesus said, "these (wicked) shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matthew 25:46). This is a future event.
- As we saw at the introduction to this lesson, Paul twice says, "We shall be saved..." (Romans 5:9-10). This is neither past nor present, but future, isn't it?
- Paul makes an interesting statement, "Our salvation is now nearer than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11).
- The Holy Spirit is given "as a guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession..." (Ephesians 1:14). Here redemption and the eternal inheritance is something in view, something yet future.
- Paul speaks of "the hope of salvation" (1Thessalonians 5:8). A hope of salvation implies future salvation. If our salvation were altogether finished, then we would have no need anymore to hold it as our hope.
Now, there are three questions I pose to you
- If being saved was a single event- explain Philippians 2:12-13?
- If being saved was a single event- explain both Romans 5:9-10 and 1Thessalonians 5:8?
- If being saved was a single event- explain 2Corinthians 2:15?
There are three questions to ponder and one solution is the answer. The answer is just like the Church was meant to be a verb- something that you actively participate in every day of your life- the concept of salvation is the exact same way. Salvation is a process, something we should carefully remember when we read what Paul told the Philippians, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you..." (Philippians 2:12-13)