How would you determine that someone is saved? In most of the churches I have been in the primary requirement for membership is to be saved. Of course, everyone who comes to the church says that they are saved, but how are the elders or the pastor supposed to know?
I made a comment recently about people who call themselves believers without trusting in Jesus. In response, someone told me that he agreed and said the evidence was that so many failed to live by godly standards. So, in this person’s mind, the measurement is how well someone lives by the standards.
Another brother and I were visiting recently about doctrinal divisions. For some people, some organizations, the factor that determines if someone is saved is what that person believes. If he or she believes according to a certain teaching, then he or she is saved. If not, then not. You know what I mean. In some churches anyone who speaks in tongues cannot be saved. In other churches anyone who doesn’t speak in tongues cannot be saved.
Sometimes people want to be gracious and don’t like to think of others as not saved, even though the other person doesn’t fit their criteria. They might refer to the people who attend another church, not of the right denomination, and say: “Well I know they are believers, but I don’t understand how they can be really saved.”
Sometimes people look at other believers and judge their lifestyles to be less than acceptable. They might say: “I know they trust in Jesus, but sometimes I wonder if they are really saved.”
To be “really” saved is to fit the criteria. Never mind that the criteria are different from church to church or even from believer to believer. How good does someone have to be in order to be “really” saved? What percentage of the church doctrine does a person have to understand and agree with in order to be considered “really” saved? Chances are that no one has quite determined the exact requirements.
And how is “really” saved better than just plain old regular saved? Does the person get a bigger mansion, a closer seat to the front, a better spot in the heavenly choir? Are there levels of salvation? Can someone be less saved than someone else? We could imagine a hierarchy, I suppose, where some are just barely saved while others would be more secure and still others would be “really” saved.
In fact, if this were allowed to go on, we would have all kinds of different churches with different standards and different doctrines. Each would think the others were wrong and some would think that they were the only ones “really” saved. Wouldn’t that be crazy?
Oh wait. That’s what we have.
Maybe we should just let Jesus decide who is saved and who is not. That way we don’t have to just focus on people enough like us to be acceptable. That way we could learn to enjoy others who think and act differently.
So, here’s my bottom line: Anyone who proclaims Jesus as his or her Lord and hope for salvation gets my vote. I could be wrong sometimes, that’s okay. I think Jesus would rather have me welcome a sinner than reject a brother.