I was listening to a message recently on salvation and it brought up a well known question of whether you can be “saved” more than once. Does salvation just come from accepting Jesus into your life or is there more to it than that?
The quickest answer is, yes and no.
In order for us to be “saved” there needs to be a saviour. We need to be rescued by a person, not by a list of laws. That person, can’t just be any person. When we look to a friend, family member, celebrity figure or anyone else we may idolize, as our saviour, that person will always fail. Why? Because just like they us, they make mistakes, they are imperfect and they were not created to be an example for all mankind.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV)
At some point, if we are going to be rescued by our true saviour, Jesus Christ, we have to accept and acknowledge who He is. After that, we have to build a relationship with Him so that we can protect ourselves as we continue to live out our lives and fulfill our purpose here on earth. Imagine the President meeting his secret service, sworn to protect him, and then he just leaves them where he met them and never returns. That would be pretty stupid, useless and wouldn’t make any sense. How are they supposed to protect him when they are not in his presence? It’s the same for our Protector, how can we expect Him to protect us if we are not in His presence, if we aren’t building a relationship with Him?
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection. (Psalm 91:1,4 NLT)
As I was listening to the message, some pretty intense imagery was put in my mind of just how upside-down our citizenship in the Kingdom of God can look.
Imagine you are walking down a street, it’s a beautiful neighbourhood. Each home you walk past the owner of the home is trying to persuade you to buy it. The first house you come by appeals to your lusts, you know it’s not the place for you but you can’t control yourself and you want it anyway. The second house you come to appeals to your greed, they tell you they will sell it to you cheap and you can sell it and make way more in the future. Another house appeals to your fears, if you don’t take their home you will be homeless. Another home owner tries to tell you if you buy their house you will be content with life, that this home is really what you need to be happy. One of the owners goes for ego and pride and tries to tell you how great you will feel, how everyone will admire and look up to you, if only you purchase their home.
Eventually you get to the last house, which was really the first house, you just ignored it because it looked so ordinary and out of place. The owner of the home comes to greet you and His name is Jesus. He tells you that he saved this home just for you, that you can have it, for free. He smiles at you and hands you the key. You walk in and are in awe of the splendor and magnificence of the home. You don’t understand why someone would just give something so amazing away for free. How could something so ordinary looking on the outside be so beautiful? In His presence you find real Freedom. As you spend more and more time in the home you begin to fall in love with Jesus.
For most of us, we skip by the ordinary mundane things and get distracted by what the world has to offer. Everything around us pulls at our lusts, our temptations, our need for more, our desire for comfort, for safety, and perhaps the biggest for a lot of us, our pride. It’s easy to fall victim to the owner of the other houses on that street, Satan.
Just look at what the Bible has to say:
It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom. (Galatians 5:19-21, MSG)
Isn’t that so many of us? I know that has definitely been me. Carrying around past hurts and bitterness. Seeking happiness in the wrong places. Thinking, if I have this or that item I will be happier, people will like me more, I will like me more. I used to question whether I would ever get a girlfriend or be married. Receive one thing I wanted and instead of being grateful, immediately thinking of the next thing I wanted and why I don’t have it yet. Questions of abandonment, addicted to being numb and pretending everything is okay.
I mean, I look at that list and see that I have been most of those things at point in my life, and that scarily is what the world has to offer. So many of us are lost and broken and don’t even know it. We can always try and fill these holes in our life with what the world offers, but just like Paul says in Galatians, “if you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.” It’s like we are repeatedly putting a square peg in a round hole, as much as we can try and make it fit and jam it in there, it will never fit. Jesus is the only peg meant to be in that hole in our life.
So how should we use our freedom given to us in Christ? One thing that is clear is that we are called to make disciples. Sometimes when I read the Bible, I come to a passage and just find myself stopping there, camping out, meditating on why that scripture stuck out so much for me. One such passage recently is 2 Corinthians 5:18 where Paul states that God “has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” We are called to be ambassadors, to show people who that perfect fitting peg is and what a life living in His presence looks like.
How can we have others realize that we are different than the rest of the world? It is irrational, illogical acts of grace and love, our testimony, our consistency to care when the world won’t, our concern for the poor and broken-hearted; especially if they are against us, that will cause people to wonder why we are doing the things we as Christians, ought to do. This type of impact in their daily lives, along with a searching curiosity, will help others be reconciled with God. As modeled in Acts, good deeds done by the body of Christ should always precede sharing the Good News. It allows for good will to be built so that an open atmosphere can be created to share the gospel effectively.
Which brings us back to that ordinary yet royal home Jesus gave us the key to. In order for us to make disciples we are forced out into the world where we most definitely will come face to face with the enemy. Just like a soldier heads out to battle with armor, we are called to equip ourselves with the armor of God:
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:14-18, NIV)
If the passage in Galatians is a template of what we don’t want our life to become, what does a life walking in Freedom look like? Our goal isn’t to be perfect, but to be whole. The only way we can ever achieve this is by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)
How do we do that? By allowing the Holy Spirit to overtake us.
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. (Galatians 5:16, NLT)
How can this be, what about all my past mistakes? Amazingly, God’s economy isn’t built on a normal ledger keeping track of what you have spent and how much you owe. It’s built on an economy of grace. Our Father has freely given us all a clean slate in Jesus. He is forgiving us for all our past mistakes and all our future mistakes.
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. (Ephesians 1:7-10, MSG)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:8, 18, NIV)
So what house will you choose?
As for me and my family, we’ll worship God. (Joshua 24:15)