What does it mean to be saved?

In my church and small group, we are talking about evangelism.  This is a topic I waffle on more than any other in Christian thought.  The last thing Jesus told the disciples when leaving is (Matt. 28: 18-20):

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

So there is no doubt that we are to evangelize.  But what does it mean to “make disciples,” and how does this compare to the modern conservative approach to evangelism where we hope to bring someone to the point where they are willing to pray “the sinner’s prayer?”  An even better question is what does it mean to become a disciple?

I’m not a fan of the sinner’s prayer.  I don’t think repeating it means ‘you’re saved,’ but whenever someone does, that’s exactly what that person is told.  I don’t really know whether that person gets to Heaven or not; it’s not my call.  However, I think it is clear from Scripture that salvation is something that must be witnessed with the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16), and it involves a changing of the heart.

[quote]Instead of modern Christians, I see examples of disciples in the OT (school of the prophets) and NT (John and Jesus’ disciples), and these were people that lived with each other and traveled with each other, and were deeply involved in each others’ lives and with the life of the one they were following.  This was not Sunday morning discipleship.  These people had a true lifestyle commitment.

The largest portion of Christianity has moved to a state of doing evangelism as acts of compassion.  The Salvation Army and Catholicism are the two best examples of that… they do more compassionate works than the rest of Christendom combined.  They also tend to be the poorest spiritually.  Jesus did say that the sheep and goats would be separated by what they did and did not do for their fellow man.  But we can’t let that distract us from our worship.

I actually have wondered that I might have gotten saved twice.  Once when I was a child when I recognized my sin and was deathly afraid of the lake of fire and eternal torment.  The other time is more recently… around the age of 25 when I finally “got it” and realized that this life I was living really wasn’t my own and wasn’t worth living out my way anyway (Ecclesiastes-inspired thought) and that even though I said I had given my life over to God, I hadn’t actually done it.  I was basically the same as any other good non-Christian person, except I went to church.  I came to the point of realizing that I actually had to take up my cross and follow Jesus, and that meant that I couldn’t try to control my life and that I had to put my desires completely into submission to God’s desires, even if the result looked much more painful for me.

In short, I had to make Jesus Lord and really endeavor to live my life for His glory.  It was at this moment I actually became a disciple.

My desire is to see other Christians also reach that point.  Our problem in Christianity is that we are far too concerned with people having a better life while Jesus is calling us to have a less comfortable one.  Is the cross easy?  Is the cross fun?  Is the cross about me and what I can get out of life?  There are things in this life I really want.  Am I really willing to give them up?  Is it worth it?  When we start asking ourselves those questions, we are getting close to breaking through.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be passionate about an that evangelism is focused on trying to get people to simply see their sin and need for a savior… or an evangelism that becomes solely about compassion.  But trying to get people to see how pointless a life lived for yourself and your happiness (the American Dream) is and encouraging them to abandon it all for God?  I’m in!

Maybe the church needs to be evangelized first.  Then we’ll have something the world wants.

(P.S.  If you’re curious, the sermon “Ten Shekels and a Shirt” (mp3) and “A Tale of Two Kingdoms” were the primary things that God used to rock my world.)

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3 thoughts on “What does it mean to be saved?

  1. Jesus said that to get into heaven, we need to be like little children, so I plan to take the following approach:

    An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him, “How do you expect to get into Heaven?” The boy thought it over and said, “Well, I’ll run in and out and in and out and keep slamming the door until St. Peter says, “For Heaven’s sake, Dylan, come in or stay out!’”

  2. To clarify my earlier comment/joke, i think that’s how many people operate, even though Jesus says we cannot serve both God and mammon (riches). We still waffle back and forth. Surely salvation is more than feeling assured of your place in heaven because you said a formulaic prayer.

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