What must I do? – pt 2

Am I still saved?

If we are saved by the gift of God in Jesus and simply have to believe/receive the gift in order for it to be fully ours, then what do we have to do in order to stay saved?

Many religious groups and teachers understand that the gospel is simple, that faith is what enables a person to receive the gift of salvation and that no works or rituals are required. They don’t argue that point. They know they would bring the charge of “salvation by works” on themselves. But they change the focus by suggesting that those who are saved can stay saved by adhering to a certain set of standards. In fact, some go so far as to suggest that those who don’t behave or live a certain way will lose their salvation.

Another facet of this is the claim that you have to do certain things in order to be “really saved.” No one knows how “really saved” is different from regular saved, but that isn’t discussed. So a person might say that he believes in the saving power of Jesus and has accepted the work of Jesus for himself; but, if he doesn’t live according to the rules and standards, he isn’t “really saved.”

While there is nothing in the Bible that teaches these things, many believers live under the fear and shame of doubt concerning their salvation because they know they don’t measure up. They continue to struggle against sin and they find the rules and standards difficult. When they fail, the legalistic church or friend or family member is there to challenge their salvation—on the basis of their works.

Think about that. If certain works are required to keep the salvation Jesus died for or are required to be somehow “really saved,” then how is that different from the old gospel of works? If salvation is still based on what we do under certain requirements, then we still save ourselves by our own goodness, don’t we?

Perhaps I know that I will never get rich based on my financial skills. So someone gives me riches at his own expense. They are a gift, based on no effort of my own. Now, what would lead me to believe that I could keep those riches or make them grow on the basis of my financial skills? The same lack that would make it impossible for me to become rich would make it as difficult for me to stay rich. (Just ask the lottery winners!)  The only way I could stay rich is if I were to be given so much that my lack of skill could not use it up, or if my benefactor were to continue to pour out riches to me in spite of my ineptness.

I think this is what Jesus has done for those who belong to Him. He pours out on us more than we can lose or ruin and He keeps giving us more. He is the One who saves us and who keeps us saved. He is the One who makes sure we are “Really saved.”

He calls, He gives, He keeps. The Author and Finisher of our faith.

5 Comments

Filed under Legalism, Relationship, Theology and mystery

5 responses to “What must I do? – pt 2

  1. JPK100

    As always to your posts, Reverend, I say Amen! I have been the victim of a “really saved” attack. The “Christian” was expressing “deep concern” for my salvation because, despite the fact that I believed and said I was saved, my pastor and church thought I was saved, my husband thought I was saved, she did not. She said, “You know you’re saved if you have an overwhelming sorrow for your sin.” (When I repeated that to my pastor, he said, “Where does it say that in the Bible?”) She also implied that because I read People magazine at the time, I wasn’t really saved. She did not seem to understand that evaluating someone’s thoughts or behavior to determine if they’re saved is the worst form of legalism.

    Here’s the real problem with this line of thinking. What the person is saying is, “You’re not saved until *I* say you’re saved.” She is co-opting control of the believer’s life. If you, the person in her sights who needs “real saving,” fall into this trap, you will start doing things to convince your doubter that you’re saved, instead of focusing on the Savior. It is the worst form of coercion, it is manipulation masquerading as concern, and these Pharisaic believers are Satan’s favorite tool to distract Jesus’ followers from following Him.

    So what did I do? After prayer, a good talk with my pastor, who knew all about this person’s problems, and a good cry over this woman’s betrayal of my trust, I ended the friendship, no questions asked. Her reply? “After all I’ve done for you!” Yes, indeed. As the saying goes, With friends like that, who needs enemies.

  2. Kelly

    I do agree with you, please tell me if this fits in to what you’re saying. My marriage is destructive and I have filed for divorce. When I tell my husband that there are necessary changes that need to be made in order to stay married. He tells me all the time that I need to love him unconditionally and that I have a works mentallity by expecting him to “do things” in order to stay married. He throws this at me a lot. There was a time when I get so angry I told him well I’m not God, I’m a woman. He comes back with I should be striving to be more Christ like. Why shouldn’t he? Seems like he has a different set of rules for himself? Very confused.

  3. Valerie

    Kelly, you can’t reason with someone who is unreasonable. The kind of “discussion” you outlined isn’t really a discussion at all. He is not looking for how to make things better with what you describe. Yes, it is confusing because abusers constantly have you doing mental gymnastics when you have a dialog with them. An abuser’s goal is not harmony in the relationship- indeed, if you are content then they actually view this as a loss on their side. Everything is about winning for the abuser. He is verbally battering you and beating you down. They are very adept at stating part truths and using “truisms” to make you confused. Twisting, misusing, distorting. You will only win an argument with an abuser by walking away and not engaging. A narcissist does have their own set of rules which is really one rule: whatever works for him is what’s best for everyone.

    It is confusing because the “argument” he makes appears as one that you should defend as he tries to appeal to your decency. I mean who would say we shouldn’t be more Christ-like? Of course it would be hurtful to anyone if they felt they needed to perform “works” to stay married. But he is telling you in effect that the reason the sky is blue is because grass is green. One has nothing to do with the other but there is nothing a person can refute in that example so its only a bunch of crazy making. Its a hamster wheel with no end and just a bunch of running around. This isn’t a lack of communication and understanding, this is about him wanting power over you. You feeling the need to have to state you aren’t perfect like God sounds to me like he has set the standard at an unattainable goal. Since you have filed for divorce it sounds like you recognize that too.

    A person IS being more Christ-like when they hate sin and call it for what it is! Christ never calls us to unconditional relationship. I’m sorry that he has treated you so destructively.

    • Honest Abe

      In my own simple faith and belief in God and Jesus, I feel that if I have discussed my sins with Jesus and ask to be forgiven and he does, then I am saved. Am I saved forever? I hope so because I am at heart a good, honest person leading a fairly decent life and care for my loved ones and others who come into my life. Am I wrong, David, to expect that my elementary beliefs save me and will continue to do so with out having to gain “save approval” from others?

  4. prairiemom

    Thank you for this “Part 2.” Part 1 was great and came at a perfect time. This is so relevant to everything going on in our lives right now, so many forces that would redefine grace with a “yes, you are under grace, but…” at a time when my kids are hungry for God’s acceptance. Really, only God’s acceptance is so free for us (though it cost Him so much), compared to what we must do to be accepted by most others in this world. I will take God’s acceptance any day over the acceptance of anyone else. We will be reading this as a family at dinner tonight. Thank you.

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