Thursday, July 20, 2006

When Did You Get Saved?

In the particular church I'm affiliated with, almost without exception, folks can name you a day and even moment in particular when they "got saved". I've often felt (my own bias, i'm sure) shamed or weird in some way that I'm not able to do the same. I can't tell you exactly how old I was or commemorate that date in any way. (the whole blogging birthday thing got me thinking about this) I know I was a child, somewhere between the ages of 6 or 8, when I first genuinely believed that Jesus was God's son and He died to forgive me of the wretchedness of my sin. I'm not being sarcastic here. I knew, that early, that I was lost without Him and that I was sinful. I do remember knowing and having a full grasp of that fact. At some point later, when I was maybe 11 or 12, I knew, I just KNEW, that I needed to continue my journey in Christ with baptism. I felt called to be baptized, or, as we would say, "convicted" that I needed to be baptized. I knew that it was time to identify fully and publicly with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Most in my current church circle would say that it was at this point when I was truly "saved". And some, on the fringes of the circle I'm a part of now, would say I've yet to be saved because of the order in which I believed and a few other specifics about my baptism. So....take heart gay readers....there are those out there who think I'm going to hell right along with you! (please laugh heartily at this point)

Anywoo....I do have a point in all this.

Later, sometime during the middle of my first marriage, I began to question everything I'd ever been taught or thought I knew about being a Christian. At the low end of that journey, I even questioned the existence of a personal God who cared even one iota about the lives of any of us. I believed at that point that I was basically on my own, just battling it out one day at a time and trying to make the best of things and treat others fairly. I believed in God, but not as a personal sort of God who cared about my day to day life. My day to day life at that point was really great in many ways but totally SUCKED in so many other really important ways. Que sera' sera'. (i'm a child of the 70's and I hear Doris Day singing right now....bear with me...hehe!)

I'll cut the journey short here and make my point. It was during the time that I was divorced and on my own that I began to really search and seek God. Yet again. Why I would seek a God who I'd decided didn't care about me personally, I can only attribute to the wooing of the Holy Spirit. I do believe that He sought me; pursued me. (i've been thinking along this line as well due to kevin beck's recent post about a book i intend to read)

Finally, my point in all of this, is that salvation is a journey. It is not a one time event. It is certainly not within our realm of judgment to decide who is "in" and who is "out". We can only proclaim truth as we have it revealed to us (by way of scripture and the Holy Spirit) and keep on truckin'. (i told you i was a 70's child)


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Jay said...

I totally agree. It seems that a lot of churches in the South only focus on that first act of salvation (the realization that Christ is our Savior) and then forget about the rest or treat it as secondary, when in fact it is just as (or perhaps even more) important.

By the way, since this is my first post here, let me just say that I'm an 18 yr. old guy from NC who's struggling with unwanted SSA. I've recently discovered the wealth of support that can be found in these kinds of blogs, and you're one of my favorites. Keep up the good work!

Inheritor of Heaven said...

I see salvation and sanctification as being similar yet different. I see sanctification as a process of growth and change from the time of salvation through the time of our resurrection. I see God using the actions of Jesus and the Holy Spirit accomplishing this within us; growing us into a life pioneered and perfected by his Son and empowered by his Spirit.

Norm! said...

"...I've often felt (my own bias, i'm sure) shamed or weird in some way that I'm not able to do the same. I can't tell you exactly how old I was or commemorate that date in any way. ..."

I completely relate! Some of my earliest memories are about going to church and hearing the message. And I vaguely remember praying with my grandmother for God to come into my heart. But I don't really know the date or even my age when I first considered myself "saved".

I can remember several later moments in my life when I prayed the sinner's prayer, 'asked God to come into my life', rededicated my life to God, baptized, etc., but I've always assumed that I was already "saved". Afterall, I was taught 'Once saved, always saved.'

Fundamentalist Christianity -- especially the evangelical brand -- seems to boil Christ's message down to a single transaction: Give your life to call and God will save your eternal soul.

"Finally, my point in all of this, is that salvation is a journey. It is not a one time event. It is certainly not within our realm of judgment to decide who is "in" and who is "out". We can only proclaim truth as we have it revealed to us. . ."

I agree, although I would probably say "life is a journey" or "truth is a journey" since 'salvation' is a loaded word. I think God reveals God's truth through a life-long process. There may be dramatic revelatory moments, but it's a continuing process.

grace said...

Jay: Thanks so much for commenting! You greatly encouarge me as well! (i totally overuse exclamation points, sorry can't help it! haha!) Tdub has this other really cool resource you might be interested me if want to check it out. It's free! Not trying to sell you anything here...just a good place for guys where you can get more support from others, not ALL struggling with unwanted ssa...but many. I'd rather just let Tdub share more about it with you in email than me doing it here.

Interior: Great thoughts. I agree with sanctification being the process of growth toward Christ....I still just have a difficult time putting a stamp on the moment of salvation. The story of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8 illustrates clearly that the way is a journey since that guy was obviously seeking God before his actual baptism. But I totally get what you are saying as well. :)

Norm!: Good to hear from you! It's nice when our words/thoughts/feelings resonate with others. The shift I've made in my thinking about my eternal soul from what I grew up with (like you) is that my eternity begins here and now as God's Kingdom rule breaks in to restore all things to His original intent. I can begin living as if I'm in heaven right now because of the Lordship of Jesus.

kurt_t said...

This post made me think of the quiz you took that indicated that you were ideologically close to the Eastern Orthodox Church (which is pretty much the same thing as Roman Catholicism, except without the Pope).

The Catholic and Orthodox churches, I think, have an understanding of Salvation that's very similar to what you're talking about.

Have you ever read Thomas Merton? I think you'd like him.

grace said...

Hey Kurt! Funny you mention Thomas Merton...weird...I have this tiny little book (like 3X4) of Thomas Merton quotes and I love it. I've even written down, in this leather bound book I have a quote of his that I would like to have read and printed for my funeral someday. (morbid, i know, sorry) I've always intended to get more of his work, like an actual book, at some point. Just haven't done it yet. I'll share that quote I like (it's quite long) in a blog post later.


FeatherIron said...

I cannot point to a day either Grace. It was defintely a process for me. At 12 I walked the isle of a Baptist church and professed Jesus as lord but I didn't start walking what I believed until I was 17 when I decided I wanted to truly believe and live as He taught.

I love the scripture "walk out your salvation with fear and trembling" to me that says I must fear God as in the revernce, knowing He could crush me but He chose insted to love me and tremble at the very fact that the God of the universe loved me enough to come as man, die for my sin's and save me from hell.If I walk in that, I will serve Him and be walking out my salvation.

grace said...

FeatherIron: I think we've had pretty similar upbringings in regards to the doctrines of faith we were "weaned" on. And the "work out your salvation" Phillipians 2:12 verse is a key scripture for me as well. It's very easy for me to fear God and be careful of the way I treat/respond to others based on His judgement. I see so many, who seem to believe that they are the instruments of His judgement instead of the purveyors of His love. He judges us ALL....not just those who committ the "big" sins. I'm not really talking to you at this point, can you tell? :)
Thanks for commenting and giving me more to think about!


em said...

Yep, salvation is definitely a process. Us poor western/capitalist fools just want to boil it down to a quick transaction with God. We give him "our hearts" (whatever that means) and He gives us eternal salvation. Good deal, eh? ;-) Then, we go on living however we wanna with some periodic guilt and shame.

You know what I find notable - how pain is a tool that God used to bring you to Him. How often we think that the Christian life/faith is a blissful experience, when we are reminded in scripture that it is more about taking up your cross than wearing a gold one around your neck.

Taking up your cross is part of a journey -- salvation process

kevin beck said...

Grace, What a great post. You are so thoughtful.

In my former church tradition, we had to do the right things in the right ways, otherwise salvation "wouldn't take." Hear the gospel, Believe, Repent, Be Baptized, Live Faithfully. In that order. Perfectly. Don't mess up.

Wow. It was so intense. No one could live up to it. That puts all of the onus on me to please an abussive father. That's not the God I read of in the Bible...or the One I know from my experience.


Blessings to you.

grace said...

Em and Kevin: Thanks for your great input! Those 5 steps make it sound so easy...and that's awfully tempting I guess....but I've found so much more beauty, adventure, and even mystery within the process than what 5 little steps could possibly entail.

Thanks guys!