Thursday, July 10, 2008

Point vs. Process Salvation

At what point in time are you saved? At baptism, before baptism, at your death? Never? Knowing the difference between the two ideas, and their logical consequences, explains everything about why Catholics and Protestants disagree with each other. For example, if you are saved by a process then it makes sense that the process goes on after you die in purgatory. If you are continually getting better and better it only makes sense that this would go on in the afterlife right? Get ready to struggle your whole life under process salvation, but on the other hand if you are saved at a point in time then you can relax, because you are already saved. What you do after you have secured eternity becomes a thing called Sanctification.

These two ideas of salvation are not just a little different, they are a lot different. You will read wildly different results out of the Bible depending on which one you read into the Bible. If you hadn't guessed already, believing in process salvation is very damaging. The issue is thus: If salvation is a process then you have earned heaven as your reward. Did God help you? Did His grace give you a boost? It matters not, you did the work you share in the rewards. Salvation is something God owes you. Even if he started the good work and you continued in it you are still owed by him. The more you do the less room you leave for God- the more works, the less grace.
Process salvation of course flies in the face of Romans 3:21+. Paul says the law and being obedient to it was meant to bring us to an understanding, not to perfect us. When the engineer who makes cars tells you the F-150 you are driving is not intended to be a boat would you doubt him? Yet we doubt God when he tells us why he gave us the law.
Yet the worst thing here, the biggest causality to believing process salvation is in losing the concept of Sanctification and the ability to trust and rely on God.
If once saved not always saved then you better be on guard, because you could lose it at any moment for any reason. Worse, you might not even know you lost it, the line between winning it and losing it is totally invisible, and God has not told you where it is. How much adultery is acceptable? Does God indeed demand the perfection from the sermon on the mount? Good luck. Trusting God is out because he has explicitly turned you loose, it's up to you to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

All the passages in the Bible about Sanctification must then necessarily become about justification, even when it doesn't make sense to do so, as in Heb 10:14. God's promise in Deut. 30 is life or death serious, and you won't even realize the meaning in Deut 30:6, so concerned will you be with your part in the deal.
The alternative is to accept that you are saved at a point in time. Accept that He has already secured salvation. Never will he leave you, never will he forsake you. A much better way to live your life.

3 comments:

iowachild said...

Because we study in English and we are used to different denominations, we look at salvation as an either/or concept. But, I was reading in Ephesians on the NET Bible the other day and learned that the original Greek did not make that distinction. (http://net.bible.org/home.php)

Ephesians 2:4-5 says:

2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us,
2:5 even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you are saved!

A footnote on the "saved" at the end of this passage said this:

Or “by grace you have been saved.” The perfect tense in Greek connotes both completed action (“you have been saved”) and continuing results (“you are saved”).

In the Methodist Church, they use the term Salvation for the immediate action--acceptance of Christ and guaranteed entrance into Heaven and the term Sanctification for the ongoing process of becoming more godly as you grow in Christ.

If you look at it that way, being saved is a point AND a process. Not one or the other.

:) Angie

Phil said...

Yes, thank you Angie that is very true, Salvation is not limited to a point, as it acts throught all time and space. I did not mean to imply that grace is static and frozen to an event in our past.
The grace that saved us is the grace that secured us, is the grace that keeps us saved, and is keeping us secure at this very moment. Well said, and true enough. But! When Christians fail to make justification occur at a point in time there will be no room for sanctification as the lines blur- and the reader will have to start doing bible gymnastics or ignoring passages when they come upon verses talking explicitly about sanctification.

As one who formerly believed there there was no such thing as knowing you are saved I find "point" salvation to be more biblically accurate, and so much more enjoyable.

kristi said...

i agree that it's a point and a process. it's a very complicated, often confusing thing to grasp. i also agree that we have to be careful not to give ourselves so much power in the situation that we end up being the ones to give and take away our salvation.