Some folks recall some life-bending moment in which God became real to them, a time of difficulty when they became open to faith. “I needed something in my life. I hit a kind of wall and I cried out to God. He heard me and saved me.” Such moments are doorways into transforming faith. But such moments are not alone evidence of eternal salvation.
Psalm 27 describes people who are driven to God by some trauma. Trouble came, enemies, war surrounded them and they said, “I will go to the house of the Lord.” Two possible things happen in the lives of such people. One, an inquiry is launched! (27:4) “God, why did you do this? Where are you? When is this going to abate – this trouble?” For these people, salvation is a haven from some storm. Sadly, many will abandon faith when fair weather returns. They only turned to God for temporary help. They may continue to attend church – regularly or periodically. But, they never move deeply into the realm of transformation. For many, it will take trouble to drive them back to the temple again.
Others however, are driven into the haven due to some storm, but they go deeper. They move beyond the “inquiry stage” and behold the glory of God. They “see his beauty” (27:4). They are smitten by God Himself. These people never want to return to the old life. Trouble may have driven them into the temple, but what they have found is richness beyond anything they have ever imagined in the world. Their entire life-orientation has now shifted.
Most people understand that intellectual consent to the facts of the gospel are not enough to save us. Salvation is not merely a head thing – it is also a heart thing.
Truth without spirit is not enough to save. Understanding the gospel facts, the story, a cognitive grasp of the gospel story, as noted earlier, and even believing them in some rational way is not enough to save. You and I can believe in God. We can believe in Christ, as well as the virgin birth and His sinless life, in the crucifixion and resurrection – and still be lost. The Spirit has to quicken truth to our heart. And when that happens something dead inside wakes up to new life. It is not head without heart, and it is not heart – feeling and emotion – without the head. It is rational. But salvation must also capture the passion-center of our being. Without that, it is loveless faith. And therefore, no living faith at all. Relationship, a love relationship, is at the core of Christianity. God is not interested in having cool rational dead people as followers.
The demons, James said “believe and even tremble!” One translation suggests that their hair stands up! (James 2:19) No rational person would assert that Lucifer and his demonic hordes are saved – and yet, it is doubtless that they, more than humans, know for certain the very real facts surrounding Christ and his ministry on earth, his resurrection, ascension and enthronement.
Side-by-side, reading from the same book, using the same Christianese language, singing the same songs, from Sunday-to-Sunday, some think themselves saved, but they are deluded. They are riding a pew that appears to be on a parallel track with true saints. Occasionally, they feel the wind of the spirit. They are so close to the salvation dynamic working in the earth, and yet they are so far away.
These are the people who will cry out in the end that they saw, and perhaps worked miracles, signs, wonders. But he will say, “I never knew you.” You and I were never intimate. You were never approved (Mt. 7:21-23).
Mere belief, in a static manner, is not enough to save. The faith that saves is alive. It warms the heart. It is a partner to love.
Salvation – is for us, but it is not ultimately about us! It is about Jesus! Those who see salvation as being about them – what God has done, is doing, and will do for them – are blinded by the darkness of their own shadow. They have missed the most important revelation of salvation – a God who is bigger and grander than them. A God, who by nature is a Savior, a Creator, a Redeemer, who gives away life and love. Salvation alters our world, it changes orbit patterns. God is not drawn into some orbit around us. It is our life patterns and rhythms that change. And it changes our nature, destroying self-centeredness, motivating in us a heart that embraces sacrificial love for others. Salvation is not merely a transaction with God, in which he takes our sin and offers us the gift of life, it is transformational. It involves the impartation of His life and his values.