What is salvation?
I’ve always had doubts about the state of my soul. Am I saved? These struggles - do they indicate the presence of God or a lack of Him? But always, always, always, I would brush those doubts aside, reassuring myself with a couple of reasons:
1. I know that, because of his miracles, that Jesus was God incarnate. And, after three years of ministry, that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead.
2. I have felt the presence of God in my life - cried, felt his peace, heard his call.
3. Everyone else struggles.
But as I prayed, deep down, I realized that I fundamentally believed that I was lord of my life, and not Jesus. I was NOT saved. I pulled out this booklet that Koinonia gave me, called Course 101, that detailed the fundamentals of Christianity and the way to salvation. As I read, my heart sank when it reached the part titled: Inadequate Views of Salvation.
James 2:19 - “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder.”
This point kills my first two reasons. Demons definitely believe in all the facts of salvation - that a God exists, he is the Christian God, that Jesus was the Son of God and that he rose from the dead. In fact, their grasp of those facts are probably firmer than our own. We struggle with doubt, but the devil was an eyewitness to the Resurrection. Demons feel emotion in the presence of God - shuddering. Crying/hearing/feeling him can occur without salvation - God is everywhere, after all.
Of course, everyone struggles is just a moot point. Salvation is between you and God - it doesn’t matter how far ahead or left behind others are in their walk.
Salvation is this: do you believe that Jesus is LORD?
I understood this, and my mouth had said those words before: Jesus is Lord. What do I believe?!
That I am Lord.
So I prayed: God, save me from myself. Save me from myself. Over and over. Save me, because I know I need you but I still pull away. Sometime during this prayer, I suddenly imagine me standing on a boat. The surface of the water is choppy, and the boat is a simple rowboat. Jesus is standing before me on the water and his hand is outstretched towards me, the question implicit in his posture: will you trust in me?
I pause. This is it. Decide now. And do not decide lightly - count the costs. Luke says, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘this fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” Make this decision, and make it with a full understanding of what it entails. Count the cost. In my imagination, I knelt before him and lifted my hands to him, my life in my hands. I kinda imagined my life to be this sort of ectoplasmic blob. And Jesus takes it. And I said: Jesus is Lord.
Sigh - At that moment, I thought I had finally recieved my salvation. But now, removed from the quiet of my room, my doubts and former longings had returned. What changed? Has my salvation state changed? Was I not a Christian, and now am, or are my struggles simply the same? I do not know.
But please, I ask everyone - are you saved? You can believe all the facts, understand all the reasons and feel all the emotions, like I did, but is Jesus your LORD? I procrasinated - I know I did. Everytime doubts came up, I brushed them aside, partly out of my own understanding of the facts, but partly because I was LAZY and didn’t feel like spending time to think about something I felt was already decided. Do not stand up and say to yourself: the business is over, and the deed is done. I am a Christian - now on to bigger and better things. Kneel before God and finish it. Do not gloss over this decision. People more eloquent than me have written volumes on this subject, so I’ll stop writing. I’ll leave you with a question:
Are you saved?