The Question of Salvation
I remember the scene quite vividly even though it was quite a while ago now:
I had walked some distance to get there, and it took particularly long to find my way as I was not yet acquainted with the area.
I entered the small college chapel with reverence and trepidation – reverence because I knew I was in a place of prayer and trepidation because I did not know what to expect. It had always seemed to me that every house of worship was unique and unlike any other.
After skimming the handful of students spread out amongst the pews with their heads down in prayer or quiet meditation, I made my way to the front in an effort to join them.
However, someone stood in the center of the aisle and walked towards me as I was to making my way. He was a younger student with a kind smile and who, from my initial impression, was good-natured and friendly. He greeted me warmly and we had a casual exchange of the usual, “What’s your name? What are you studying?” etiquette many default to on first meeting someone. Then, as if out of nowhere, he unreservedly blurted out the question that inspired this post:
“Are you saved?”
After some hesitation I responded, “I don’t really like that question.” Then after another pause in which I spent trying to come up with a cohesive response to further my position I added, “…because I was saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved.” Confused, he questioned me further, but I was unable to fully explain what I meant. It’s been a long time since that encounter, but even so, it’s time to look at how we should answer this question.
The following excerpt is a great explanation of this all too common exchange:
A very godly bishop was walking down the street one day when a little girl, a very zealous Christian, no doubt, asked him, “Bishop, are you saved?” The bishop, a very kind man, smiled and said, “My dear friend, might I just inquire a little more exactly as to what it is you are asking me. Are you asking me, have I been saved? Or are you asking me, am I now being saved? Or are you asking me, shall I yet someday be saved?”
Well, that pretty well flustered the little girl. She didn’t respond.
“Honey,” said the bishop,
“all three are true: I have been saved. I am being saved; and I shall yet be saved.”
You see, salvation is comprehensive…
It has to do with our past – we have been saved from sin and death through baptism. This we call justification.
It has to do with the present – we are being saved. This has to do with our daily walk and growth in the life of Christ and the Spirit. This we call sanctification.
And salvation has to do also with our final glory in Christ. As St. Paul said, “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4). That we call glorification.
To summarize, we were saved at baptism and must continue to work out our salvation for the rest of our lives by daily loving, obeying, and following Jesus — all the while hoping in the resurrection and looking for the life that is to come.
Salvation is a journey to oneness with God
Let’s look at the sacrament of marriage to understand what this ‘journey to oneness’ means.
When you stand before God, surrounded by your loved ones, and are mystically united to the person you are betrothed to, what happens?
Do the two of you become one?
Absolutely! You are married right then and there. No one can argue that point.
However, it is equally true that you will work out your marriage from that moment on until the end of your life together. There are still two people with very different ways of thinking and doing things. You will have to tirelessly work together to agree on how to organize your home, allocate finances, spend free time, raise their children, and a host of other things.
In the Christian life, as in marriage, two wills are involved; God’s will and ours.
Jesus constantly yielded His will to the Father, even to death upon the cross. That kind of obedience is not easy, and it is not something we can do once and forget. It is a way of life, a constant yielding of our will to God’s will daily. Each time we choose God’s will we are working out our salvation, and we are becoming one with God.
Therefore let us run with endurance the race set before us.
Let us fight the good fight of faith.
Let us lay hold on eternal life.
…knowing that He has already delivered us from so great a death, He does deliver us, and trusting that He will still deliver us until the very end.