Sunday, August 15, 2010

I was 'saved' but I did not have salvation.

Growing up in the teeny-tiny fundamentalist Baptist church by the creek (I do not recall the name of this church, but I recall the creek I used to look at through the window) I was well versed in the "You are a horrible, rotten, evil sinner and God would rather just throw you in hell.  There were many hell fire and brimstone sermons, and at the age of five, I was terrified enough that I went forward during the altar call and was 'saved.'  This is a process that was repeated many times over the years...only it was called 're-dedication.'  There would be a sermon on a particular 'sin' I would be scared of hell, question the sincerity of my salvation, get 'saved' again and hope it sticks this time. Rinse, lather, repeat.

The sins preached against were numerous. Watching a specific TV show, reading a certain magazine, listening to a certain music group, wearing 'immodest' clothes, not being 'bold enough,' The list of  'sins' goes on and on. Over time, though. I slowly came to a realization. These things were not sins, or at least not as 'sinful' as some people made them out to be.

I felt driven to read my Bible for itself, to try to forget everything I was taught and simply read. I found this amazing thing called grace. I had always heard that we are saved by grace, but then, you better follow all these rules' in order to be 'truly saved.' Not only that, but the rules I was made to follow, to feel hell-bound over, were man-made- or man-made extremes.

Reading the Bible just in and of itself, I realized that God does, in fact, have 'rules' for us to follow but they have precious little to do with what I had been taught all those years.

God's greatest command is LOVE...He said so himself when asked what the greatest command was. Jesus said, in short, to "Love God with all of your being and love your neighbor as yourself." I read further on and see "Let us love one another, for love is of God and anyone that loves not knows not God." "They will know you are my disciples by your love." and so on.

I read on and found Matthew 25 about the sheep and goats and how they are separated. It isn't by what we are entertained by, it isn't what we wear...but how we LOVE and care for our fellow man.

Love is another thing that was distorted in my growing up. "Love" was defined as "Telling people they are horrible, rotten sinners that God will toss into hell. This is not Biblical love. The love God wants us to share is found in 1 Corinthians 13. You know it..Love is patient, keeps no records of wrongs.

Love, Biblical love, is what I found to be the difference between being 'saved' and receiving salvation. It is understanding God's undying love for us. God does not want to toss in hell; he wants for no one to perish! God so loved us that he sent his son, who endured unspeakable pain and agony so we can be saved.

Having that love in you can't help but bubble over and overflow and reach out to others. We don't love because it is on the checklist of holiness; we do it because we have realized just how God loves us and in realizing that and letting his love wash over can't HELP but spread it around.  You see someone in need and your heart yearns to help them. It pains you to see suffering in any form.  This isn't a work; it comes as natural and predictable as the sunrise.

When you let His love come and captivate you, when you toss aside the 'rules' and let the Holy Spirit work a mighty work in your life? THAT is when salvation comes. You realize that there is noting you can do to earn salvation, and that your very best efforts are what God thinks are filthy, horrible, and rotten- not you someone who he created the innermost being of certainly not one he sent Jesus for.

This is grace. This is freedom. This is what God desires for us.


  1. Beautiful! God bless!

  2. This is so good! I too asked Jesus into my heart at a very young age, but I always felt guilty and worried that I wasn't good enough. It's only been recently that I've been learning to fall into His love. I'm amazed that you mention Mt. 25; that's been so convicting to my husband especially. He's a pastor, and he's been convinced that we as a church have been wrongly focused for way too long. We need to reach out and show God's love in tangible ways (not just TELLING people they're lost and on their way to hell, but finding a real need and filling it to show them we care for them and God does too.) As we have sought to do this (he's a pastor), more than half our church members left! We've been unfriended on facebook by people we've loved for nearly ten years. Our kids have lost their best friends. We're being accused of preaching another gospel. But we're convinced that THIS is what God's Word says.

    I've always heard love was an action not a feeling, so it confused me when 1 Cor. 13 described people doing loving actions (like helping others and even giving their body to be burned) but then being warned that if those actions were done without love, it was worth nothing! So if love was not a feeling but it wasn't a specific action (like giving your whole life for others), what was it? Thankfully the rest of the chapter answers that! It is not rude, it is gentle, it believes all things, it keeps no record of wrongs. Wow! What a list! How humbling! I need God's power to do that!

    I've discarded many of the extrabiblical rules taught me as a child (KJV-only, dresses-only, hymns-only, etc.), and I have sometimes wondered what is there left to my Christian walk if it is not about those external standards? Then I realize that I have PLENTY to keep me focused on: the fruits of the Spirit - being loving, joyful, gentle, faithful, patient, self-controlled! Wow! THAT'S the true mark of a believer (and sadly so often missing in SO MANY of the people filling the churches in which I grew up). But then, I don't want to point the finger at them. I'm just rejoicing as I learn to exult in the love of Jesus and see His love beginning to be reflected in me.

    I want the grace and freedom God desires for me! There is true beauty and joy in this kind of life!

  3. I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

    God Bless You ~Ron

  4. Thank you so much for this beautiful post.