In my small island home of Jamaica nestled in the topical region of the Caribbean you can ask 10 people at random if they are a Christian and about 6 out of the 10 will say yes.
However, if you ask those same 6 people out of the 10 “are you saved?” only 1 or 2 will respond with a yes while the others would be uncertain. You would think that being a Christian is synonymous with being saved and it is, but many people don’t know what salvation is.
What is salvation?
To most people it’s a Christianese word that the pastor uses to give us hope for life in heaven after death but based on my study of the scriptures ‘salvation’ is so much more.
Most Christians think that because they believe in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, they will go to heaven and spend eternity with him and that that is all there is to salvation.
But truthfully salvation is the transformation of our lives. It is the reconnecting of the bond that was broken between God and man when Adam and Eve first sinned. Salvation has 3 tenses: present, present continuous and future.
In Romans chapter 10 Paul gives us a good idea of what it requires to be saved. He says we must believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus Christ died and resurrected to save us from our sins and the penalty of our sins.
So, it is reasonable to believe once we have done that if we were to die right there our new-found salvation would qualify us for heaven. However, most of us don’t die right away. We live and go on to face the struggle of living a holy life in a sinful world and that’s where the present continuous tense comes in.
Present continuous tense
In 1st John 3 and Romans 6 the writers speak very strongly against the idea that because we are saved by grace we now have a license to sin. The whole idea of being saved is not only hinged on avoiding the eternal consequences of sin (Hell) but also the earthly consequences (heart break, broken relationships, broken homes, jail, tarnished reputations, etc.) Living a sin free life as someone who is born again of the Spirit of God is the hallmark of salvation in our day to day lives.
However, most if not all Christians have a hard time living the new life God has called us to because we are still tempted, and we still must deal with the urges of our flesh. Even Paul refers to the tug-of-war battle between spirit and flesh he himself also faced in Romans 7.
As a matter of fact, so many Christians have been defeated over and over by their flesh that they have become complacent and have formulated a less than biblical impression of salvation in their minds believing that they can never live a day without sinning as long as they live in their physical bodies. This results in them denying themselves the power of the Holy Spirit who has begun a good work within them and wants to bring it to completion but that requires total surrender from the individual.
It is true that for most of us we don’t stop sinning as soon as we have become a Christian but we must grow into the holiness God has called us to. It may take a lifetime but our progress must be constant and that requires a close relationship with God. Without that we forfeit the power that is available to us to live day by day free from sin.
This refers to our most common understanding of salvation and is hinged on the return of Christ and Judgment day. Those of us who have found faith in Christ and have kept the faith will be rewarded for doing just that. Our faith in Christ makes us Children on God (1st John chapter 3 and Romans chapter 8) and because of this we have the Holy Spirit within us who not only acts as our spiritual guide and powerhouse but also as a seal on our lives guaranteeing our position in Heaven when we die (2nd Corinthians chapter 1 and Ephesians chapter 1).
But if we presumptuously live in a manner that dishonours the Lord we deny the Holy Spirit the opportunity to make us Holy and so we deny our salvation. If we deny our salvation, the penalty for our sin still stands and we will experience much misfortune not only in this life but also in the life to come.
Any one of us may get the impression that I am saying we must be good to earn our way into Heaven, but salvation is still given by grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8-9). Without the Holy Spirit holy living is impossible, trying to live holy without depending on him is futile. So, no it is not our goodness that saves us it is our faith in Christ and our surrender to his Holy Spirit.
Darren Salmon is from Kingston, Jamaica where he studied Bachelor of Science degree in BioTechnology at the University of West Indies. He became a follower of Jesus when he was 10 and has since developed a ministry of Christian Poetry for which he has gained a godly reputation. He became a young writer with Christian Today through the recommendation of Stacy-Ann Smith an established and award winning young writer.