What Must I Do To Be Saved? (#532)

The God Journey today announces a new co-host for Wayne. Well, actually it's an old one! Now that his schedule has lightened Brad is returning full-time as co-host of The God Journey and they celebrate that with some listener input before taking an important question from a past blog comments. What must we do to be saved? It was a question Peter was asked at Pentecost and invites us to consider what salvation even means. Is it the get-out-of-hell-free card, many were promised for a trip to the altar and a sinner's prayer? Can any prescribed process guarantee that someone has connected in a meaningful way with God, and if not how do we help someone find life in Christ and allows them to experience eternal life in this world?

Podcast Notes:
Information on the GJ Trip to Israel
Wayne's Travel Schedule
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  1. Wayne/Brad – long time listener, first time caller. 🙂

    Glad you are getting the band back together. Though it has been great during the gap.

    I was thinking about your recent conversations about ‘sin’ and specifically ‘sexual sin’. I found the conversation difficult.

    Years ago it was easy. I could make a list of all sexual activities, put them on a piece of paper and tell Christians do not do these things or bad things will happen to you. Including eternity in hell. Simple but oh so missing the heart of God.

    You raise the good news that God will enter in to our brokenness and bring health.

    I wonder if the focus on sex and what is outside the lines misses the point? Two adults of the same sex love and marry each other. Brokenness? Freedom? Depends on whom you ask.

    Pre-marital sex generates God’s wrath? Brokenness? Freedom? You spoke of how young people are deferring marriage.

    I find myself in a place that we have to respect conscience and the choices of people. If sin is more about how we bring pain into our own lives than ticking off God maybe we need to provide people the room to work through life?

    In the end, it seems that our motives matter. I would encourage all of us to seek to act in love toward another whatever form that takes.

    • I hear what you’re saying, Dwight and i thinks e can be incredibly gracious with people who don’t interpret things the way we do. But I think Brad and i would both be a bit uncomfortable shifting a biblical sense of what lines up with the Creator of the universe and what is out of bounds enough for God to warn us about its implications. Jesus has the amazing ability to still call sin sin, and love people in the midst of it. That’s what I’m learning too. Love and light travel together, but in a measured so that truth will not overrun love. Certainly Christians have erred on the side of arrogantly pointing out the sin in others lives and being dishonest about the sin and brokenness in their own. We are not the moral police of the universe. We are fellow strugglers all with broken places in our heart. Even many people who listen to this podcast who have same sex attraction don’t mind seeing it as a broken place without seeing themselves as disqualified of God’s love and grace as they sort this out with him.

      I hoping we can provide a gracious places for people to discover his life and grace without having to be accepting of behaviors that are destructive to ourselves and others. Admittedly it is not an easy road to walk… We tend to fall off on two sides, making everything OK, and condemning anything that doesn’t look like me.

      And I do think the “broken” conversations is for those who have hearts toward God, not name-calling we do in the world….

      If that makes sense…

      • I hear you too. It makes sense.

        It is just like this latest issue with transgender folks and bathrooms. Regardless of what I personally think, the way we discuss brokenness and sexual issues comes out judgmental and excludes. We paint lines to say – you are not allowed.

        Enough said – thanks as always. Always learn something.

        • i am in that battleground too…recognizing my own sins more and more as the world grows darker…especially the city i call home.
          i am not hurting myself except smoking… and its the least offensive outlet for incredible frustations.
          same sex. unisex. asexual. androgony. mixed. trans. whatever you want…seems to be the motto…
          its all “love”.
          no.i do not believe that. even though i know i too am a wretch. and if my thoughts are broadcadt for the world to judge or for God to see my level of purity…i would fail.
          i have tried every which way. rebellion. legalism. and middleground…
          today…i feel trapped by people and situations i trusted…. how far does the enemy’s conspiracy go….
          Jesus has overcome. he has…
          but i am still battling to let him lead me OUT ….i thought the tunnel ended… maybe life is the tunnel

          • Hi Elvia, just a note to let you know that it seems what we are learning is Jesus is with us in the darkness of our battles. The ups and downs of our emotional states, the darkness we struggle with changes nothing about His character and His promises. I am still processing and learning…wanting to live inside that reality as well. Blessings, Sue

    • as a minister, one of the things i have seen is the shift from a God-centric faith to a me-centric one. your post summarizes this idea by defining sin as what is harmful for me. this is a slight of hand of the gen xers and millenials. it is true that sin hurts me, but that is not WHY it is sin. Sin is what is unholy, what defies the creation and order as God made and explained it. no rationalization or subjective view changes that.

      • Andrew, I’m curious if you just reacted to the description or heard the podcast. You don’t think sin is harmful to us and in God’s love for us he not only warns us away, but provides the power for us to live free of sin and shame? And your contention is that that makes us more selfish? Then I guess you don’t yet know how the love of the Father wins our heart into his reality and changes us at a far deeper level than mere religious performance ever can. I would agree that sin defies creation and the order of God, which is why it destroys us and those around us. Only by learning to his love however can we truly be free of our self-preferring ways and find our home and joy in Father’s purpose.

  2. Hi Wayne and Brad, good discussion again. Thought provoking as usual. Isn’t what you were essentially talking about assurance of salvation to use the old parlance?

    I have two observations. First, I have learned that when my grip on assurance grows weak through discouragement or sin, and I have the ‘black dog’, it is by obeying the Lord’s command to love one another that I regain that sense of peace and purpose in my life, and by trusting His Word and by allowing the fruit of the Spirit to appear in my life. I don’t mean this in a legalistic sense, but I think this is how the Lord wants us to ‘know’ him (and therefore his eternal life) through the very practical means of trusting him and obeying him, and not by introspection which the NT doesn’t encourage us to do.

    The second observation, which is fairly esoteric, is that we perceive salvation through the lens of our own experience and needs. I am indebted to John Bickersteth many years ago for the observation that there are principally four negative and four positive reasons why people come to Christ, which are reflected in the presentation of Christ in the four gospels. These are

    “Negative reasons
    1. The unbeliever may be aware that his life is in a mess and needs outside direction, authority, deliverance or new purpose. He hears of Jesus, his authoritative teaching, his victory over evil and his promised return in power, and is attracted to him.
    2. Or the unbeliever may be acutely aware of sin, or of a need for healing or some other help. He hears of the Saviour, his servant ministry, his atoning death on the cross, and is drawn to him.
    3. Or the unbeliever may be experiencing loneliness, or want a special friend to stand alongside him, or feel uncertain and desire some example to follow. He reads stories about Jesus, sees his compassion and sympathetic friendship, and wants to learn more.
    4. Or the unbeliever could be researching religions, and be sincerely searching for the truth about God, life and the universe. He reads the Gospels, or hears a sermon about the Son of God and his unique claims, and is attracted to the Light of the World.

    Positive Reasons
    1. The unbeliever may see the victorious life of Jesus lived out in a friend, read or hear about Jesus’ power and authority, and become aware of his own need for Jesus to straighten out his life.
    2. Or the unbeliever may see the effects of a friend’s sudden freedom from guilt after becoming a Christian, or read or hear about the Saviour’s costly sacrifice, or be impressed by somebody’s life of service. As a result, he may be convicted of his own sin and need and turn towards Jesus.
    3. Or the unbeliever may have a devoted Christian friend, or may receive some helpful advice from a Christian, or be somehow drawn to the perfections of Christ. He realises that he needs a friend, companion and example and starts to investigate Jesus.
    4. Or the unbeliever may be greatly moved by Christian worship, or have received a clear spiritual experience, or some revelation of Jesus as God. He feels that this is what he has always needed and begins to join in with the worship.”

    If this is true, it shows that we all seek and receive something different from salvation, which helps us to see God in different ways as well. All of this contributes to the diversity of the body and in the round we get a fuller knowledge of the God who loves us undistractedly. So the implication is, that we need some ‘fire assurance’ but equally we need all of the other things mentioned above as well.

    Hope this helps, and blessings…

  3. Hi Brad & Wayne,

    Enjoyed the podcast. Looking back on my experience with regards to the message of salvation, I had a real issue with the “pie in the sky when you die” message I was given. If that was the case, why not kick the bucket now? As a young person, I really needed to know there was a reason for my living on earth.

    It was only once I became aware that the Lord not only wanted to live in me but also wanted me to allow Him to express His life through me that life here on earth started to make sense. The knowledge that He wanted and still wants a daily relationship / intimate communication with me is truly awesome.

    It was all about being introduced to a person all those years ago and it’s still all about getting to know that person and my relationship with Him today. As I come to know Him, in an ever increasingly intimate way, my appreciation and love for Him and all He loves also continues to grow.
    Many times in life I’ve had to say, Lord I don’t understand…. However, because of my relationship with Him over the years I’m able to add, but I love you and trust you.

    • I’m sure we have enough Dave to cover all we’re passionate about. However, if something strikes you when you’re listening, it might be worth a look… But no need to.

  4. I had some good thoughts about 20 minutes in so I stopped the podcast to write them down.

    Welcome back to the podcast Brad! Yes, I’m one of those that have listened to every podcast, but I haven’t been here since the beginning. Only for a couple of the over ten years. Right now I don’t feel the urge to jump off, maybe someday I will, and in a way I’m glad you won’t notice. But there is that nudge of obligation, to give back what has been given to me, but unfortunately I am not in a position to give. Maybe this is God’s way of showing me, you guys are what you say you are. A scary way for sure, but God’s methods are not mine.

    About the issue of salvation…yes, I know I am saved. I can tell you down to the month and year I became saved. Salvation, I believe, is how you, Wayne, term some of your events, as a ‘y’all come’ event. But in reality, not everyone will come. If you listen to Calvinist teaching, only some will be chosen, meaning God only meant for some to be saved, and the rest headed for eternal damnation. A much different plan than what God intends for us.

    And being saved isn’t about being nice or good. I felt I was both those things before I was saved. It was through several relationships where I was betrayed that I realized something was missing in my life, and I, not those who betrayed me, was the problem. That was the hardest realization I came to, but the very realization I needed.

    I once heard a teacher state that Gandhi is the nicest person in Hell. True or not, being nice won’t get me to Heaven, but being saved will.

    Now back to the podcast…

  5. Beautiful thoughts Liz.
    This is a conversation I could listen to over and over. Think about all the jive we are getting in the news, a constant bombardment of ridiculousness and then listen to this wonderful podcast. Now tell me which is reality? This to me is a real life conversation about salvation. It is engaging and real.

  6. We wander and wonder, yearn for the reveal…. Seek, search and eventually come back to the realization that He has been there the entire time. We tend to think religiously of a path or route to God; a journey seems better put… As to us He says. “Go on, you’re convinced of what you need, it won’t heal you, but go on, I’ll be right here.” As we purge, our expectations shift from us doing towards him having done. Beyond the corridor, the old falls to the wayside, the new is awakened; life and love are and have always been One. Freedom arises, no longer needing our parking stamped, we go on the journey fully embraced, and we know this without a doubt. Stuff comes and goes, but He stays put, guiding, teaching, revealing. Hell has been perverted by Donte and the geeky Greeks to permeate the good vs bad agenda of the tree, the one He said not to eat of… We think He needs to induce fear, something love removes, to motivate, to manipulate. We fear damnation as a super spiritual thing, it’s not predetermined – it’s unchangeable judgment, justice eternal. Doesn’t this reveal our need of involvement, acceptance of Him? How unjust would it be to the Son to just let everyone in? What need then for Him to die? In Christ you’re fine, no need to try to figure how deep you are in Him. He baptized You, not the other way around. Worms never die when you cut them in half, hog roast fires are the hottest of all, burning under the earth. Fear involves torment and so we are tormented by hell because of that same fear, which love removes by the way. A sure give away That fruit is from the wrong tree is when you see a civil war – A vs B, and none of it brings the life you seek. It’s not about a place it’s about seeing His face. Within our carnal construct we can’t help but see positive or negative, unless we allow him to daily reboot our brains, and that’s all part of the journey any way. Brad glad to hear your back in the love shack, pun intended…

  7. So when did I get “get saved”? Was it when at the age of 3 that I recognized that God was big because the sky was so big? Was it when I realized an older child that God was important and when I had a head knowledge of Jesus? Was it when I was in catechism class as a teenager and found myself truly interested in what I was learning as opposed to all the other kids who were goofing around? Was it when I went to the altar after being convinced by someone I needed to “go to the altar”? Was it when when I read Chuck Swindoll’s Grace Awakening and came to a much deeper understanding of grace? Was it when I realized that I was a total mess at age 40 and was at the end of my rope willing to throw everything away? Was it when I realized I was living in the New Covenant, and not the Old Covenant? Was it “yesterday” when I realized that this world really had nothing to offer me – that to live was Christ and that to die was gain?

    Or am I still not saved because, unless I live the way that Francis Chan describes a “true Christian” in Crazy Love, I am lukewarm and cannot possibly be saved?

    Oh, there were so many times that I got “born again”! That sounds weird, but each time that God revealed a truth where I experienced new-found freedom, it felt like I was seeing life in a new light, almost like it was for the first time in some cases. Sometimes they were so significant, I really wondered if I had been saved before, and yet I am pretty sure I was. All I can say is that in hindsight, God was pursuing me and revealing himself to me all my life. And today, I know I am secure in Him.

    Each person’s story is different. The salvation messages even in their most distorted forms are crooked sticks pointing to the truth of Christ and God can even use them to stir people to seek Him. Thankfully He continues to lead and guide His children over time into deeper truth, something I can attest to and am so thankful for.

    I wonder: When He will “save” me next? LOL

    • John, I finally had to come to a point where I believe I am saved once and for all, despite all evidence to the contrary, despite what family, friends, and people at-large think, what well-meaning religious authorities say, even those authorities who have ulterior motives say. Brad nailed it in the podcast when he said being saved is a knowing thing, not a feeling or thinking thing. It is beyond doubt.

      When Thomas demanded to see and feel the nail holes in Jesus’ hands,and feel His side, he did so because he simply wanted to believe. Thomas didn’t want to disprove or disbelieve, it was honest doubt. And Jesus responded in kind, and Thomas came to believe.

      I don’t think God stops revealing HImself to us after we are saved, or it means we are not saved. Just like any other relationship, it is one of deepening understanding. He wants us to know HIm better, saved or unsaved. Simple as Romans 10:9.

      We as humans tend to complicate things because we think if it is too easy, we aren’t doing it correctly. But Jesus says His yoke is easy, and his burden is light.

  8. Wayne/Brad – it seems that the topic of ‘being saved’ is ripe for fresh thinking.

    We think of a person drowning getting pulled out of the ocean as being saved. We think of a soldier who was wounded being dragged to safety as being saved. It is usually that someone is in a place that will bring great harm or death that we use the term being saved.

    Is that what Jesus meant? Was Jesus focused on the next life (as you probed Wayne)? Was He declaring salvation because of what was to come? Is a Get Out of Hell Free Card the point?

    The problem, as I see it, is that we view salvation as a transaction. Recite a prayer. fulfill a ritual – one and done.

    What if salvation is really about healing and restoration? What if salvation is about finding our way home? That the path we have chosen leads to isolation, brokenness, and pain. That there is a path, a relationship that allows us to come hone to be part of His community.

    Would it wreck people’s faith if it wasn’t about Hell? Would people find Christ less interesting if it was about love, wholeness, relationship and not skipping judgment to come?

    I still hear us vs them, clean vs unclean, in vs out. What if all those lines we seek to draw have nothing to do with Jesus’ heart?

  9. Wayne and Brad –

    First of all, I want to say how much I’ve enjoyed the podcast over the last couple of months. Every week seems to hit right where I am – things that Father is showing me or things that I have been thinking about. I look forward to hearing you each week (especially the laughter!) 🙂

    I was sitting in a service this weekend at the congregation where I used to be on staff. My wife still likes to go there and I go to support her. The series was on Galatians and I was very interested in the direction they would take with this. The topic: Spiritual Inheritance. (I was especially interested having listened to this week’s podcast episode).

    The pastor told a story at the beginning of people who had received inheritances but really did not know what they had. He talked about law vs. grace and how we are not under the guardianship of the law – we are under grace.

    He began to describe our inheritance as children of God. The first was our relationship with God. The next three were all future-related. (Glorified body, New Heaven/New Earth, and one more that escapes me right now).

    All during the message, I hoped that the pastor would point out all that we have in Christ right now. Not only is it part of salvation but also our inheritance, right? By the way he was talking, I really thought and hoped he would head in the direction of all we have access to NOW.

    The message built to the main point where he compared earthly inheritance with spiritual inheritance. His point: earthly inheritance is NOW. Spiritual inheritance is LATER. I really wanted to stand up and shout “NOOOOOoooooo!!!!” What about all we are and have IN CHRIST? (But I refrained..)

    He went on to say (basically) that we live the Christian life for later. What we have to keep in mind (his words) were that all we do now, we get the benefit of…later.While that’s true in a sense (I’m not saying anything he said was not true), it’s only a partial picture of what we have and have inherited as followers of Christ.

    There’s so much that can be missed in the here and now if all we focus on is later. Much like your discussion of salvation. Not only does it have value in the life to come, but it also has value in the life we live now. I began to wonder if this is a big reason the Gospel being preached is not all that attractive? Is it the one that must be preached to get people to go to one of those organized places?

    Thanks again and look forward to more!

  10. Hi Wayne, Brad. Sometimes when I think of the story of Sodom and Gomorra I get a bit edgy – was that an act of a loving God to wipe it from the face of the earth? Of course, you can argue that wrath against sin is the flip side of love. But sometimes I can’t help feeling: “What if I get in a state like that? Would God wipe me from the face of the earth?

    • Hi Evgueni. I used to ask that question. I think that is the eternal security question (?).

      I recently had a conversation with a friend, and a question came up: Why me? Why did my heart respond? Why do I have eyes to see and ears to hear? I certainly do not deserve it, but yet here I am. And I am deeply thankful. But I could so easily be on the other side of it, not seeing, not knowing. So what makes me different from people who do not see? Frankly, I do not have an answer to these questions. I am not sure there is an answer this side of eternity.

      I also think perhaps your question about your possible future state in unanswerable and is perhaps not a question that ought to be asked because it requires speculation and removes a person from the present into the obscure, unreliable, unknown future. It also creates fear-based living.

      I lived most of my life with “what ifs”… it is an exhausting place and devoid of answers. For every what if you get answered there are 100s more behind it. I have discovered that the final outcome never matches the what ifs, so the energy spent trying to figure it out is completely wasted. The present is the place where eternity touches us (from CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters). It is all we really have to live with.

      If you think about it, you are already in “a state like that.” Your righteousness is as filthy rags. Your best falls way short of God’s standard. Your own Sodom and Gomorrah exists already just because you are human born into sin. God really should have wiped us out. Read Romans 2 after Romans 1. We seem to want to label homosexuality as this great sin because of Romans 1, but then Romans 2 points out that we all do the same thing and are in “the same state”. So in other words we all live in the Sodom and Gomorrah described in Romans 1.

      Even as new creations in Christ, it is Christ in us that is our hope and glory. Without Him, we still fall horribly short.

      While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8) … May be that is part of the “answer” to your question…
      (Nothing) can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:39)

      Anyway, that’s my miniscule thoughts on eternal questions… 🙂

      • Thank you, John. You are right, the thought instills fear. Nasty place to be in. The present is always beautiful with God’s gifts all around. Made me thing of manna which fell one day at a time.

    • Evgueni, the popular view of Sodom and Gomorrah is far from the Biblical story. The reason it gets wiped from the earth is not because they were evil. We all are born in sin. Cultures have been worse, but the impact it was having on the known world was drawing humanity away from the story of redemption. I see this and the flood, and even the rebellion of Korah, not as God finally giving people what they deserve, but a loving God protecting the rest of humanity from their influence. God has not destroyed civilizations far worse. It isn’t a this-is-too-evil kind of moment, but that the impact of such people will altar the timeline of redemption coming into the world and needed to be expunged. It is still love that does that…

  11. John L said “Your own Sodom and Gomorrah exists already just because you are human born into sin. God really should have wiped us out.”
    Right. But he didn’t, He wiped out Jesus instead in the most horrible death possible; the death that we deserved.
    How does that make you feel about coming to God?

  12. Marcia, you’re right. If that’s what God did, who would want to come to him. But I think you misunderstand what happened at the cross. God didn’t wipe out Jesus because he or we deserved it. God through the son took sin into himself (2 Cor 5), so that he could “condemn sin in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom 8).” The cross was not a punishment for sin, but the cure from it so that as sin came into the race through one man, sin could be expunged by the man Christ Jesus. If you want to know more about this view, you might listen to Transitions at Lifestream.org. https://www.lifestream.org/transitions/

  13. Thank you Wayne, that’s exactly what I was hoping someone would say! It’s the gospel we need to hear again and again, and being constantly surrounded by the “look what you made God do” message of penal substitution just does my head in. Thank you for the website link, I will be definitely be spending some time there.

    Warmest regards from New Zealand!

  14. I clapped and cheered when you brought up salvation discussion as more than get out of hell free card! So much more! I’ve been pondering this topic for quite a while and the get out of hell, one and done, version so diminishes the truth of salvation. It’s past present and future. It’s more significant and glorious than we can begin to understand. It is spiritual wholeness and healing at the moment I believed, and a continual healing of my emotions and body as He gently untangles my broken life in his perfect timing. And it is still to be granted in full in the future, as we only have the down payment right now.

    I am curious where the “God reallyl wanted to wack us but he took it out on Jesus instead” idea came from. I was isolated from mainstream Christianity for many years and never heard this. In Ephesians there are at least 3 different words referring to God’s will, with nuances of meaning from a calculated plan to a burning desire. And none of them involve wacking us. It’s a pretty twisted concept. If God has to flee from sin, why did he seek out Adam and Eve in the garden after they sinned? He even made the first move seeking out Cain! I see a God seeking to draw us out of sin, not avoiding us until we take a Jesus pill. Jesus accomplished what we could never do and solved the sin problem once and for all. But he was carrying out God’s will. How could it possibly be God’s will to wack us? It just doesn’t line up.

    • To answer your question, Other Pat, I think it came from Isaiah’s statement that God was pleased to crush his Son. It was certainly taken out of context and misinterpreted in light of the story of Scripture, but when we have Jesus dying to satisfy something in the Father it leads to weird conclusions like that. Our tradition was way off on the Atonement, at least as I’ve come to see it now.

      • Wayne –

        I wonder too if we don’t somehow make the leap to this idea in Ephesians 2, where it talks about us and our former selves being objects of God’s wrath or being deserving of it. Since we were objects of God’s wrath, then Jesus must have been the object of God’s wrath since He took our place on the cross. (Even though it mentions God’s great love for us in the surrounding verses.) Amazing how we take that leap!

  15. Hi Guys,

    As always, thank you for the weekly encouragement! Love the new look, and hearing the ol’ band back together too.

    Wayne, you once shared (think it was in “The Jesus Lens”) about how Amos 3:3 (MSG) impacted you with a decision that had to be made. I couldn’t but help having a laugh thinking of what the reaction would be, if the new photography had Brad and yourself walking “hand in hand” rather (in fact, it’s so close, it wouldn’t take much to Photoshop)… :):):)

    His peace be with you both!

    • Easy there, Grant. We’re friends, good friends, but not hand-holding friends except if we’re praying for dinner or something else. But definitely not on a walk. Though, we have often been the subject of a few photoshppings. Just check the “Extras” section.

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