Recently, a person with whom I correspond asked this question. Here is a part of the question:
Am I saved because I say “I love you Jesus, come into my heart”? Or am I saved when the Spirit enters my soul and sends a message to me that we are now one. …
My point is this. I believe that Jesus makes the decision, not us. He has the power to give Salvation. Man does not have the power to take it when he wants it.
Here is my reply…
I understand where you are coming from. The problem (IMHO) is in the definition of the word “saved.” It all depends upon your theological perspective. The varied definitions of what & when have caused a multitude of other conflicting theological issues as well (“once saved, always saved” is a good example.)
Recently, I saw a non-trinitarian church sign which said, “Acts 2:38 – The plan of salvation.” I assume that they believe (as many “oneness” churches do) that you are not SAVED until you repent, are baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ” and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (as a simplistic reading of Acts 2:38 may suggest).
Not meaning to “throw gasoline on the fire” but the NIV uses the term “being saved” in Acts 2:47; 1Co 1:18 & 2Co 2:15. This suggests that it has not yet happened! Another phrase that speaks of our relationship to God is “redemption.” But that also is used for events that have not yet come to pass: cf. Ep. 4:30; 1:14 & Lu 21:28.
The best answer for all of this seems to be Romans 8:28-30 which is called in Latin “ordo salutis” or, “order of salvation.” This portion of Scripture lists several events that take place in the progression toward our redemption or salvation:
- Foreknowledge of God: He knew before the world began which of us would CHOOSE to accept His plan of salvation.
- Predestination: Notice this is NOT a predetermination of who will be saved. Instead, it is a predestination that those (from #1) who choose God’s plan will “be conformed to the likeness of his Son.“
- Calling: The Holy Spirit is continually urging people everywhere to accept the sacrifice of Jesus as the means of becoming righteous before God. Unfortunately, “many are called but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14).
- Justification: When we do accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins (I believe that repentance is part of that acceptance as well), then God justifies us and we become righteous in His eyes (Gen 15:6; Ro 3:23).
- Glorification: None of us has yet been glorified (cf. 2Co 3:18) but there is coming a day when we WILL take on a glorified body (cf. 1:15:51-55).
I try not to say “saved” any more when I am speaking of my current relationship with my Father, God. Instead, I say that I have been “born again” and “adopted” into the family of God. We are “in Christ” and have been “sealed” (marked as His own) until the redemption takes place (cf. Ep. 1:13,14).
What do YOU think? Are you (or I, or anyone) saved when we speak specific words (with our heart); or when the Holy Spirit “seals” us; or, when we receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit; or, when we are baptized in water; or, when we are glorified (either at death or at the “catching away” or “rapture” of the church)? Tell in the comments below