In contemporary Christianity it is very common to hear that someone “got saved” or to have someone tell you that they were “saved” at such and such a time. But beyond that, the concept of “salvation” remains dormant. I believe this stems from a misunderstanding of salvation, that is, salvation in its entirety.
Now, it is true that many believers can point back to a specific moment of turning from sin towards initial trust in Christ for salvation. In theology we call this moment conversion and it is also the moment we are regenerated (given spiritual birth and life) and justified (counted as righteous before God). In this sense, then, we can rightly say that we were saved upon our conversion. But the idea of “salvation” is Biblically and theologically much more comprehensive than just that one precise moment.
This is the third of four messages I gave at Winterfest at Lake Lundgren Bible Camp in December, 2011. In the previous message, The Gospel According to Jesus, we looked at what it takes to follow Christ. In this message, we examined the book of 1 John to see exactly what a follower of Jesus looks like. One of John’s goals in this epistle is to give assurance to those who are saved. On the other hand, his message is hopefully one of conviction for those who are not.
Other Winterfest 2011 messages.
In The Cross and Salvation Bruce Bruce Demarest takes the reader step by step through the doctrines of salvation in order of their logical and temporal occurrence. He groups the book into six sections: 1) the plan of salvation which includes an introduction, grace, and election/predestination, 2) the provision of salvation, being the atonement, 3) the application of salvation, including the subjective aspects such as divine calling, conversion, and regeneration, and 4) the objective aspects such as union with Christ and justification, 5) the progress of salvation which is sanctification as well as preservation and perseverance, and finally, 6) the perfecting of salvation, which is glorification.
Within each section Demarest starts off by presenting the doctrine at hand’s history and significant theological views of the doctrine such as the Pelagian/Liberal view, the Semi-Pelagian (Catholic) view, Lutheran view, Weslyian/Arminian view, Neo-Orthodox (Karl Barth) view, Liberation view, Pentecostal view, Nazarene view, Keswick view, High Calvinist view, Moderately Reformed (or Calvinistic or Reformed Evangelicals) view, as well as other views. (However, which systems he talks about differs from one doctrine to the next, because some systems apply to certain doctrines and not others). This section is remarkable for many reason. For one, it lays a historical context for the reader. And secondly, it gives the reader a broad perspective on the doctrine and the various viewpoints concerning it, making the reader aware of false interpretations that might go unnoticed otherwise and possibly introducing the reader to various beliefs besides his own, which has several obvious benefits.