Errant Christian: “God saved me cause I had it going on!”
Correct Christians: “No, God alone HAD to saved you and me cause we had it going SO wrong!
Salvation is an unearned gift, undeserved favor. You are not “chosen” in the Judaic sense, by birth because of your lineage, or heritage, but instead by virtue of the work of Christ, by faith you acquire a NEW lineage and heritage that links you back to God from the fallen state of judgment for sin. If you ARE thereby “saved”, it means you have eternal life. But eternal life “where” and of what character? A Christian needs to be concerned about THAT. Living forever and not dying eternally beyond the mortal death is good news (gospel). But will you live with God or somewhere else? For only that which is transformed in the image of the Lord can dwell in His presence that you may be presented faultless before His throne. Salvation is a gift of grace. We did not DESERVE to be saved and there was nothing we did to “deserve” it or could have done. God simply loved us enough to save us in spite of our shortcomings and faults. If you understand that properly, it gives you a whole new sense of humility ABOUT your salvation and the faith walk towards progressive sanctification that you will and must engage as a result.
If I think I am “saved” because I’m someone important, that will impede my sanctification and endanger not the existence of my soul (which is secure), but my presence with God in my eternity. I will treat others like my salvation is a possession of my own and be arrogant and conceited towards sinners and maybe even other believers. I will act as if I have no past or if it was merely an angelic fictional prelim to the inevitable process of me becoming “holy.” I will sit in judgment of others and their sin, as if I am in the position by virtue of some righteousness of my OWN, to do so. Rather than humility, my focus shall be my ego and salvation, rather than being the gift that makes me know the majesty of God DESPITE my failings and that strengthens me to love and help others in the knowledge of Him, turns into a country club membership of elitism, where I determine who’s “worthy” to be in MY presence and walk on the path with me, making myself useless as an ambassador for Him. Salvation in the face of such blasphemous pride makes me actually less like Christ rather than more, over time. And God warns that “pride cometh before the fall,” that fall being inevitable for a believer who walks in such false, misplaced hubris.
So, why “salvation” and what am I to do with this unearned gift of God?
Salvation frees you to be righteous and holy, to no longer be prisoner to the wages of sin (not that you can’t sin, just that you are freed from the yoke of being inevitably doomed to death by it) and to develop the discipline to be like Christ (which is what Christian means) with God’s guidance. That latter process is called progressive sanctification. It is a life long (mortal life) process. Some folks are saved and doomed at the same time. They will not die, but what an eternal life they face.
The one called Paul addressed the plight of those who take the gift and then keep doing all the evil stuff they were doing without trying to spiritually evolve as a result of it.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?…