Do Church-goers Really Get Salvation?

If you were to ask the average church-goer in Churches of Christ what salvation is all about what do you think they would say? Several things come to mind of what the typical response might include:

  • Getting to heaven
  • 5 steps of salvation
  • Having our sins forgiven

While all of these things have scriptural merit and are not to be discounted (except some might contend salvation is not accomplished in “steps) does this really hit the bulls eye or is there more to salvation than this? Also, why is it that many who have been in church for decades are still really not that much different than the world? Could it be that we have watered things down so much that it no longer makes any more demands on their life than repentance and baptism (done many years ago for some) when the Bible clearly teaches so much more than that?

What I believe has happened over the years is we have missed much of what is really going on with salvation in order to boil it down to the steps of salvation in order to show our differences with denominations. It is easier to debate whether or not baptism is essential to salvation than it is to develop a more fully biblically informed view on what salvation itself is really all about. When was the last time you heard in a sermon or Bible class anything about Jesus conquering sin and death? When was the last time you heard any teaching on what eternal life was all about? When have you heard anything about sin other than it results in death and separates us from God? In the Churches of Christ we need a more biblically informed view of what salvation is all about and not water it down to only one half of the equation (the 5 steps we take). God is doing so much on our behalf in the salvation process and yet you rarely hear any of that in our circles. At least, that is my experience. Have any of you noticed the same thing?

The only way people in the pew are going to get it is if we start to teach it. If we are going to teach it we have to get it first ourselves. This does not mean we discount repentance, baptism, etc but it does mean we also fully endorse many other biblical principles and teachings on salvation itself.


Ben Witherington on Salvation and Eternal Security

I don’t like removing a quote entirely from its context and slapping on a heading that doesn’t quite fit but I hope that the above heading does justice to what Ben Witherington was writing in his Romans commentary regarding Romans 1:16-18.

“One can say, ‘I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved,’ but not ‘I am saved,’ if by that one means that the process of salvation is already complete. There is always the working out of salvation with fear and trembling to be done while one lives in the flesh (Phil. 2:12), and there is also the matter of deliverance from final judgment or through Christ’s judgment in the future. One is not eternally secure until one is securely in eternity, not until one has passed through all three stages of salvation.” (Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 51).