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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Upholding the Biblical Standard of Salvation.

It has become a common place practice to graciously place a person in heaven at their death. This is especially true whenever a celebrity passes. It does not seem to matter what the lifestyle of the individual was like during their time on earth, well meaning evangelicals will almost invariably claim that the individual was a Christian, and is now in heaven. In fairness, I believe that many Christians do not wish to appear judgmental or uncharitable. Yet, by doing so, we run the risk of lowering the biblical standard of salvation, and what it truly means according to God, to be a Christian, a follower of Christ.

What does the Bible have to say about salvation, and the Christian life? Let's look at a few scriptures to find out.

  • It is a narrow road (Matt 7:13-14; Luke 13:24). Jesus tells us to strive to enter the narrow gate, for many will seek to enter, and not be able. The way of salvation is a narrow road of surrender and humility, brokenness and obedience, walking against the current of this world. The scriptures plainly teach that the multitudes are on the broad path to destruction, while few are found travelling the narrow road to life.
  • It involves repentance (Luke 13:3; 2 Cor 7:10). Repentance is a turning around, a change of the course of our lives resulting from the knowledge that we have sinned against the holy God who created us, and loved us enough to send His Son Jesus, to take our sin upon Himself. A truly repentant individual loathes not only his sin, but his very self, for what he has done to God by his rebellious actions. Without repentance, there can be no salvation.
  • Jesus tells us that we must be born again (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:4-5). As spiritually dead individuals, it is not enough to become "religious", or to decide we are going to be a Christian now. We are in need of the inner transformation that takes place when one is born again. Just as a baby is conceived and then born, so also we need to be created and born again through the power of the Holy Spirit within our inner man. A new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).
  • A new creation (2 Cor 5:17). To expand upon the last point, as those who are born again, our lives are no longer the same. The old habits of sin are gone, and we now live a new life of righteousness, serving God. John tells us that the one born of God does not practice sin, because His seed abides in him, and as a result of the new birth, he cannot sin (1 John 3:9). This is a total change of life. It is radical, a complete transformation from what we were in the past as sinful people in rebellion toward God, to those who now lovingly obey Him. 
  • Jesus calls us to a radical discipleship (Luke 14:26-27). Following Christ is what we are called to do if we are Christians. To follow Jesus means that we give up all to follow Him. We will go and do What He bids us to do, no matter the cost. Jesus is not interested in becoming a "part" of your life. He will either be all or nothing. It is that simple (Mark 8:34-35).
  • Jesus calls us to a life of obedience (Matt 7:21-23; Luke 6:46-49). Again, we were once living for ourselves in disobedience to the will of God. Upon our repentance and conversion, we gave up sin, and embraced the will of God as the rule and practice of our lives. The one who truly loves Jesus will obey Him. The one who lives in disobedience is not a true Christian, no matter what they may say about it (John 14:21-24; 1 John 2:3-5). 
  • What is true saving Faith? We like to quote John 3:16 where it mentions believing in Jesus for eternal life, but it is of vital importance that we come to realize what true faith is. To believe in Jesus in the biblical sense of the term is to take on the cause of Christ. It is to follow Him, to do what He says, to submit to Him, to love and cherish Him. This goes way beyond mere head knowledge, a mental assent to some historic truths about the Savior. Real faith is lived out in our day to day lives, in all of the choices we make, in all of the events we experience, in all of our actions. Faith in Christ will find fulfillment in doing the works of Christ, or it is a dead faith (James 2:14-26)

A Christian is led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14). Those who belong to Christ will be driven by the Spirit. As a result, their lives will reflect this. their attitudes  and actions will be the opposite of those who live to gratify their fleshly desires (Gal 5:16-25). Paul tells us in this passage that those who belong to Christ have crucified, that is put to death, the flesh with its passions and desires. Is that your testimony? Again, many claim to be Christians, but the proof of it is in the life they live. These points have not been exhaustive by any means, but they should serve to show us that we must be careful to uphold the biblical standard of Christianity. Our very souls depend upon this, as do the souls of those who view our lives as respecting our testimonies (1 Tim 4:16).

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