When you confess your sins as a forgiven Christian, the forgiveness is instant. Forgive yourself and go on. God does not remember sins that have been washed in the shed blood of the lamb. (John Hagee) So why do I carry the rotting corpse of guilt? Because I feel like such an idiot for committing the stupidity in the first place. The truth is that I really am an idiot when I know this stuff and insist on penance at which point I am moving into pride, my behavior declaring God’s plan of forgiveness on the cross wasn’t good enough. That just gave me a headache. Forgive me Lord.
I heard in passing the TV set a good one from someone I hadn’t heard before, can’t remember his name but couldn’t drag myself away from the curling iron long enough to surf for a substitute so I half listened until he said something about salvation evolution. I stopped to listen. He asked if I believed people were saved gradually or if each one of us needs to make a from-darkness-to-light decision.
Do I believe we grow into salvation or do we grow in faith from accepting salvation? What does the seed that is witnessed into my mind grow into? The seed of knowledge grows toward a decision, one that has to be made consciously. I’ve said it before — does sitting in a garage long enough turn you into a car? Salvation cannot be applied onto anyone like clothes or soap or duct tape.
At some point you turn from your wicked ways. The point at which you have wickedness defined for you and have the consequences of wickedness clearly stated, if you don’t turn from sin, that’s when you decide to repent or not to repent, which is “turn.” The One you turn to is not just critical, it’s the whole point as opposed to “turning over a new leaf” on New Year’s Day.
Maybe you can’t pin the sticker on the calendar. Maybe one day you had an epiphany and acted on it in prayer without thunder. Maybe you were so close that the transition from pre-dawn to light wasn’t that long a ride. But you did cross over. Jesus is the source of the salvation. The Word, the work of God’s Holy Spirit, and personal contact through prayer is the means by which we grow in faith and learn to walk deeper and deeper in Him.
You can attend church for years. I heard sermons from womb to knees. But Mom could not paint me with salvation, feed it to me or dress me in it. All she could do was force me to be there and pray I listened. I had to reach a point, an actual point in time, when I reached out and I received the gift. I opened it. I exercise it. Me. Knowledge may have soaked in —
I knew who Jesus was and all about Him but did not know Him until I decided to know Him.
He’s always there, does not go away, holds me, watches me, teaches and disciplines. He gives me the choice to stay or leave, to contact or not to contact Him. I grow when I choose contact, to stay.
The TV preacher asked me if I believed in evolutionary — gradual salvation. No. I don’t. You’re dating or you’re married. You can even be engaged but you’re still not a bride until you’re a bride and you’re still not married until you take the vows. “I take Thee, Jesus … ” You’re pregnant or you’re not. This is the scariest verse in the Bible:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he 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 perform many miracles?’ Then will I tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” —- Matthew 7: 21-23, NIV.
“Knowing” in the original language means “intimacy.” “Never knew” means “You and I did not have an intimate relationship.”
Sooooo …… what am I saying here? That intimacy saves? Nope. That intimacy keeps us saved? In terms of my commitment to Him, not the other way around. He hangs onto me as long as I want Him to. Growing in the relationship happens after the commitment, the point at which I am “saved.” It, by itself, does not save. Becoming intimate, remaining and becoming more intimate keeps me strong enough to walk away from sin and sinful decisions and makes me stronger. I can also call this process sanctification. It is growing up, maturing, being able to eat meat instead of being limited to milk as Paul described it.