*Note: The following article is part of a monthly series called "TOP 10 THINGS EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD KNOW (But Probably Doesn’t)"
You can read previous installments at Ginkworld.net, and on the [Subversive Underground] blog archives.
10- The Christian Sub-Culture is NOT Good For You
9- The Kingdom of God is NOT the American Dream
8- Obedience to Jesus is NOT Optional
7- Work is NOT a Bad Word
6 – We ARE the Church
5 - Humility Is Essential
NUMBER 4 – "SALVATION IS A PROCESS, NOT A POINT IN TIME"
by Keith Giles
One thing I find fascinating as I study the New Testament and the practice of the early church is that their concept of salvation was much different than mine. When I think of salvation, I usually think of that one day when, as a nine year old boy, I walked forward and prayed with my pastor to ask Jesus into my heart. However, Peter and Paul seemed to have a different view of salvation. In their minds, salvation was an ongoing experience, not a one-time deal.
"..And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:42-47)
"For you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:9)
When we begin to think of Salvation as a process, and not an event, it changes the way we think of Evangelism.
The early church fathers also had a great saying that has come to inspire my own faith. The statement was "Conversatio Morem!" which can mean either "Death To The Status Quo!" or "Constant Conversion!", depending on the context.
This phrase was indicative of the mindset held by the early church fathers that salvation, or conversion, was something every disciple needed to experience constantly, not just a one-time event.
We could learn a lot from those early Christians, I believe. Our Church today could benefit from a new perspective on salvation as a process rather than as a single point in time. If we kept our focus on leading people to faith in Christ, with the understanding that we would continue, day-by-day, to encourage their ongoing submission to Jesus, the quality of our Churches would improve, our reputation in the community would improve, and the lives of those people would improve.
We need to follow Jesus, not just believe in Him. As it stands today, most Churches are more focused on winning converts, focusing on a one-time profession of faith, rather than aiming for long-term, daily surrender to Christ.
As I've said many times before, our question needs to be, "If you'd be alive tomorrow, who would you follow and how would you live your life?" and not, "If you died tonight, do you know you'd be in heaven tomorrow?” One question is about how you will die, the other is about how you intend to live. Salvation is about life, not death, and following Christ is about the life you're living right now, not the life you hope to live after you die and go to Heaven.
Following Christ, by definition, suggests a daily pattern of life modeled after Jesus and seeking His wisdom and guidance for daily decisions. It does not suggest a single event that took place years ago on a Sunday morning.
THE FINISH LINE OR THE STARTING LINE?
In your own experience, what happens when someone you've been praying for and witnessing to finally accepts Christ as Lord and Savior? Don't you cheer and weep and give high-fives to all your Christian friends? Sure you do. That's an appropriate response. Even the Scriptures tell us that the angels in heaven celebrate when someone is saved. (Luke 15:7-10)
However, our response and attention usually diminishes soon after this event. I believe it's because, for us, our work is done. Our friend has "made it". They are "in". They've crossed the finish line and we can all move on with our lives now.
But, if Salvation is a process, and not an event or a point in time, then our work is not done. Our friend has not come to the end of the journey. Instead, they have only just begun.
In other words, salvation is not the finish line, it is the starting line. If we begin to think of salvation in this way, as an ongoing, daily commitment to following the marvelous person of Jesus, it will have a radical effect on our methods of evangelism and the way we treat those we hope to lead into this way of life.
We will realize that our part of this process of evangelism involves a committment to people that extends long after they've made that first, tentative step towards following Christ, and we'll begin to see our own salvation as something we have to daily work on, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, as we surrender our lives to Christ every morning and confess our need for Jesus with every breath.
"..Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." - Philipians 2:12-13
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SOLITON NETWORK- AUGUST 9-12, VENTURA, CA
I'll be there and I hope to meet some of you there too!
More info here:
Conversation: "Dangerous Living"
Kester Brewin (UK)
Pete Rollins (N IRE)
Christine Pohl (US)
Ched Myers (US)
Barry Taylor (US/UK)
and many others, including you!
Cost: $100.00 per person (which takes care of evening common meals, and 'gift' to cover guides and hosting)
MORE INFO AND ONLINE REGISTRATION AT:
NON-CON DATE AND LOCATION ANNOUNCED!
[Subversive Underground] Presents:
The Non-Con 2008
"A Conference for people who never want to attend another conference again."
WHEN: March 14 & 15, 2008
WHERE: Triangle Square in Newport Beach, California
WHAT: A two day conference in March of 2008
with facilitators: JACKIE PULLINGER (Missionary and author of "Chasing The Dragon") and DAVID RUIS (Songwriter and author of "The Justice God Is Seeking")
WHAT IS THE NON-CON?
*An intentionally small gathering of 100 people who are curious about living out their faith outside their comfort zone.
*A time for serving the poor in the community together.
*A dialog-driven, interactive discussion with front-line practitioners of Justice and Mercy.
*Simple worship with one guitar in the center of our circle.
*Time for Artistic expression and interaction.
*The aim is to create something unlike any previous conference experience. We want this to be small, hype-free, intentional and interactive where everyone who attends is free to speak, to minister and to become involved with our leaders, and others.
COST: $99 (Includes meals for both days)
ONLINE REGISTRATION OPENS SOON!
FIND OUT MORE ONLINE
MY FIRST BOOK: We're on track to release my first book next month. "The Gospel:For Here Or To Go?" is currently undergoing final edits and I should have the introduction by Neil Cole ("Organic Church") in hand in just a few weeks. More info soon.
HOUSE CHURCH LEADER'S MEETING: Wendy and I hosted the first House Church Leader's meeting at our home over the weekend. It was seriously fantastic to sit in a room with other house church leaders and pastors, hearing their testimonies and encouraging one another that "we are not alone" in this crazy thing. Our group resolved to meet again next month and to invite others to join us as we continue to build relationship and seek out God's heart for His people here in this region. God is doing some amazing stuff here, I'm not entirely sure just what...but that's part of the excitement! I can't wait to discover what He has in store!