But none of those things to do or ways to be have anything to do with what the Bible – and therefore God – says being saved is.
And that means:
There are a lot of people out there assuming they've got spiritual box seats when actually they haven't even gotten into the stadium yet, AND...
There are a lot of people out there assuming they either can't or don't want to get in the game when actually God's already signed them up and handed them their uniform and gear.
So, just what does it really mean to "be saved"?
Being saved, according to the Bible, simply means choosing Jesus and Jesus' way and values in this world, instead of your own or someone or something else's.
How that choosing Jesus starts in people's lives can vary.
- Some people get their Big-Real-Moment realizing that Jesus is God.
- Some start off with a Big-Real-Moment realizing what a piece of self-centered piece of immoral doo they are compared to the awesome holiness of God.
- Some get their Big-Real-Moment when they really figure out that Jesus actually rejects all the jerk "Christians" who claim to represent Him, because they're doing all those wrong things.
For example, despite the doctrine of a lot of the "newer" (though actually just re-do's of the ancient Greek re-writes of Jesus) post-modern churches today, being a saved Christian really does require understanding that Jesus is God, and that He meant us to take what He said seriously. So, for example, a church can and should be "inclusive" or "non-exclusive", it's true. But we're supposed to be all-inclusive of people, not ideas. Claiming to be a "Christian" or "Christian church" who holds equally to Christian, secular, atheist, pagan, etc., philosophies is like claiming to be a tree that's also a cow, and a star, and a thought, and a rock, and (etc). It only works if we've put what we can imagine inside our head ahead of what's really reality around us. And it's never as "welcoming" or "protective" or "loving" as post-modern doctrine insists it is. It still leaves people hurt, still leaves people out, and still turns more people off the real Jesus than on to Him – because it's still really not about Jesus. So, no go.
But when knowing Jesus is God means you take Him and everything He said to do and understand seriously, then you've "got" this part down pat.
Another invitation to fail comes in making an idol out of how pathetic we are compared to God. We've all had a snoot-full of "conservative" and other "Christians" and "Christian churches" who go on and on and on to make sure we feel like the biggest waste of time on the planet (because it makes us emotionally vulnerable and compliant). These "Christian" folks push self-hate like Roman priests push magic wheat wafers: "Eat this, or go to hell." And in truth, it's in reaction to this kind of B.S. that the post-modern folks came up with their counter-idea of "No one goes to hell." Problem is, believing that hanging out on the left side of a pool of spit is better than the old way of hanging out on the right side of a pool of spit just doesn't get you dry. And getting dry means getting out of the dang pool. It means realizing that yes, compared to God we're worse than trash (the Bible says our best good deeds are like used toilet paper to the real goodness of God), and it means realizing that yes, if we spend our whole lives only ever INSISTING on keeping and enjoying evil in our deepest hearts then yes, it really means we don't get heaven (thank God). But just as much it also means realizing that God sees right past all that when we give Him an opportunity to do so. It means realizing that because He loves us beyond our ability to comprehend it, and because He's gone all the way to death and beyond to make sure (if we're willing) we get to spend a tearless, painless eternity with Him, our piece-of-crapness in the "Good Person" department is NOT the foundation of our identity – being God's beloved friend and child is.
When you can be fully aware of how morally insufficient you are even on your best "Good Person" day, and that just means you understand full well that you aren't God, and that just means you rely on God to take care of the God-level stuff, then you've mastered this part.
The final fail is in not figuring out the difference between Jesus, and those who claim to represent Jesus. Lots of people walk away from churches and Christianity each day because the stench of it all finally closes their lungs down. Spiritually, but also emotionally and morally, they just can't breathe, and they take that as a sign that Jesus is nuts, following Jesus is a fool's game (or a demon trick), and if you want to actually be something positive in this world then you can't be a Christian. Thing is, though, all the things we get so hurt by, and disgusted by, and angry at are documented again and again in the Bible as the exact same things God gets hurt by, and disgusted by, and angry at. God's Bible tells us that from start to finish always-always-always the majority of those who claim to be about Him will just be that in name only, trying to surf on His power and glory without actually getting in His water. The Bible tells us that. It also tells us that only that minority actually doing and living like Jesus says will be rewarded – never the majority that's already claiming its "reward". We've been indoctrinated and propagandized for so long by the false-majority – who can look right at something orange and through sheer repetition and blocking and disrespecting alternative views make everyone swear it's green – that if we truly want Jesus we really have to work at flushing our thinking processes of their imagined world.
When you can look across the whole of "Christendom" in all its false glory and simply recognize the thistles that God said He wasn't going to yank out until the End because He wants to make sure nothing good accidently gets pulled out with them (in other words, He's giving everyone every last second of their lives to choose good instead of evil, before He finally says, "Ok. Game Over") – when you can be a true follower of Jesus, wandering along His narrow path through the jungle of false-Christianity, all despite the horrid example of all the "good church people" around you – then you've not just learned this, but you're also ready to even help others on this part.
How do we know our salvation is real?
It's only hard to know when our salvation is real when we're still using false-Christian propaganda to test it. They say we just have to keep going to their church, or say certain prayer words, or eat their crackers every week, or hold to their doctrine (even if their doctrine is "Pretend we don't have doctrines"), and that means we're "saved". But that's nothing even close to what Jesus and those in the Bible say.
Take a look through your New Testament (time to get your anti-propaganda goggles out, if you haven't already).
- Notice that Jesus says we test for results in people's hearts, to know if they're really about Him or not.
- Notice that those who cling most tightly to their religious ideas, buildings, titles, and traditions are those who are most likely to earn that failing grade they spend their whole lives trying to stamp onto others.
- See, for example, that the Bible says that people who are really saved, and really about Jesus, over time become less and less interested in the world's ways of jealousy, fighting, cliquishness, destructive "fun", lustful living, and idolizing material things.
- Notice that the Bible says people with Jesus really in their hearts over time become more and more loving (even to enemies), joyful (even in the face of despair), peace-filled (even when their fellows call for blood), patient (even when it's not deserved), kind (even to those who are mean), good (even when it would accomplish more to be bad), faithful to God (even when the world trashes Him), gentle (even when they could just mash the thing and be done), and self-controlled (even though temptations to hurt, clique, destroy, take, idolize, and more fly through their hearts).
Notice that it never matters who someone is, or who they dress, talk, fellowship, or anything else. More and more, others around them can tell them apart from non-Christians, and can identify that they don't play the world's games or climb the world's ladders but work instead to clean up their own act first and then also help all those around them.
That's how Jesus and the first Christians determined whether someone was saved or not. Worked for them. Works for us.
Final things to think about:
The way of Jesus isn't actually that hard. It's our unwillingness to take it seriously that makes it hard.
Like, for example, Jesus said to:
- Love and not hurt those who hurt us,
- Not add to or take away from God's simple way,
- Not put people or things between us and God,
- Not stick ourselves with material wealth.
And that's all just more of our crappy sin-nature. All that faked "Jesus" stuff that we mix with the idols of our day (our politics, our theology, our material wealth, even our "church", and more). We create or hold to fake-Jesus stuff and it only proves once again how much we suck at being as good as we think we are.
So the hard part of salvation is our making it hard.
- Let Jesus be and handle the God-part. You take care of the broken human part. It will always be what you do best.
- Let Jesus know you're aware of what a shmuck you really are, but then fold that awareness into an even bigger awareness of how valued, loved, and wanted you are anyway by the most Awesome Being of the Universe. Let your brokenness be the salve you take around to help others heal.
- Find and stick with the real Jesus. No human being, idea, program, church, or tradition has ever represented Him well enough to earn anyone's loyalty. Find and fellowship with and learn from others who are also looking for and standing with the real Jesus.
Until next week –
In His love,
This article written by Lynne at No Junk. Just Jesus. You can contact Lynne at NoJunkJustJesus@gmail.com.