Are You Saved?
Are you saved? The truth is, I don’t particularly like this question because it offers us a skewed view on salvation, one that implies that salvation is merely a past event. Yet, in its fullest sense, salvation is actually an on-going process that only ceases upon our death. Here’s my biblical perspective on salvation…
1. We Have Been Saved:
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” — Ephesians 2:8-9
Our salvation is a gift from God and therefore, we cannot earn our salvation. Jesus’ sacrifice made salvation possible for us all. Through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, He has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life and as a result of our faith in Him, we have been saved from the consequence of original sin - eternal separation from God.
Yet, it is only after we believe, repent and are baptised in Christ, that our works start to play a role in our salvation. Apart from Christ, our works cannot save us. However, when we are in Christ and we continue to co-operate with His grace, then our fruit will be judged at the final justification.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” — Ephesians 2:10
2. We Are Being Saved:
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” — 1 Corinthians 1:18
As believers, we continue to have free-will. As a result, we can still choose to turn away from God and therefore, lose our salvation. We cannot have this complacent ‘once saved always saved’ mentality. When we choose to continue to abide in Christ and produce fruit, we continue to ‘work out our salvation.’
“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.” — Philippians 2:12-13
The purpose of our salvation wasn’t simply to be saved from sin, but rather to be saved for eternal life with God. If nothing unclean will enter the Kingdom of God, we must continue to turn away from sin, nurture our relationship with the Lord and allow Him to purify us.
“For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers.” — Romans 13:11
3. We Hope To Be Saved:
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” — Matthew 24:13
When we die, we hope to be saved. It is a hope that is not in ourselves, but in our God who saves. There is no doubt that we will face trials in this life, yet by the grace of God working through our lives, we may be able to endure them. When we preserve in faith, God can perfect and complete the salvation He has started in you. The truth is, we are not quite there yet...
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” — Hebrews 12:1-2
Assurance Of Salvation:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" — Matthew 7:21-23
No one likes talking about hell, but we cannot pretend that it doesn’t exist. It’s concerning that Jesus tells us straight up that there will be Christians deceiving themselves into thinking that they are saved when in reality they’re not. It’s a false hope of salvation to deceive yourself by saying that you have faith in Jesus, but your life does not reflect that.
Christians have assurance of salvation but not absolute assurance. We will never have 100% certainty that we will be saved because we can lose our salvation at any time. We cannot compare ourselves and justify our own goodness because our goodness is subjective.
“I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore, do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.” — 1 Corinthians 4:3-5
A better translation of the Greek word for ‘acquitted’ is ‘justified.’ When Paul says we cannot judge our own state of grace in an absolute sense, he means we cannot justify ourselves because God will bring to light the hidden things that we, ourselves, are not aware of at the final judgement. Therefore, we cannot guarantee our salvation, but we can be assured of the hope of our salvation in Christ.
Faith Alone Or Faith And Works?
The Protestant Reformation was built upon the foundation that ‘Faith Alone’ (Sola Fide) is the only necessary step needed for getting into Heaven. According to the formula, man is justified by faith alone, apart from any good works. Yet, according to Scripture, the ‘faith alone’ formula is refuted.
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works… See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” — James 2:21-24
The Bible tells us that faith and good works are both necessary for our salvation. It’s not simply enough to confess one-time that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, but rather we must actively exercise our faith through our works. Salvation cannot be earned. The initial grace of justification comes to us as a free gift, which one must accept through faith, yet the reward that we receive in Heaven will be according to our works, that brings our faith to completion.
“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” - Romans 3:28
The phrase “works of the law” was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which indicate that the term was commonly used to refer to the cultural and ritual observances of the Mosaic Law. Paul makes it clear that obedience to the Old Covenant, through circumcision, animal sacrifices and the ceremonial practices, are no longer necessary for salvation.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.” — Galatians 5:6
Paul certainly does not discredit good works, for this is what perfects and completes our faith. We are saved by faith in Jesus, but we are not saved by faith alone.
"I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned." — Matthew 12:36-37
How Can We Be Saved?
“What must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." — Acts 16:30-31
We must believe – that’s the gospel in a nutshell. However, what does it mean to truly believe?
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life but must endure God's wrath.” — John 3:36
To believe simply means to be obedient to the will of God in our lives. Delayed obedience results in disobedience. If we hope to be saved, we must rid ourselves of every layer of sin. God wants to refine us because we are His sanctuary. He wants to burn away the impurities and dross within us, the materials of His Creation. Obedience allows God to essentially mould us into a New Creation. Salvation isn’t truly complete until we are perfected in Christ Jesus.
“And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 1:6