The key points:
1. I am saved by faith, not by works.
2. I believe God wants me to have the assurance of salvation.
3. I am judged by my works.
Many times in life there is what looks like contradictions but the truth lies deeper, fully encompassing both sides. I have tried to figure this out with human illustrations but they are limited.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph 2:8-9. There is nothing we do or can do that can save us. John 3:16 says it had to be God’s son. This is the theme of the Bible. God made man-man sinned-God worked out a way to pay the debt. What these texts (and many others say) is that the dept is paid. We could never pay it. We can’t even pay part of it. Salvation is an undeserved gift.
In talking at church during our Romans study we have often come to a man/woman relationship as a way to understand a relationship with God better. To use this analogy salvation isn’t entering into a dating relationship, instead it is entering into a marriage (a perfect/ideal one) The difference is this. While dating there is little commitment. There is a lot of acting, impressing, and fear of breakup. One tries to work on the relationship by showing their good side and playing all kinds of other emotionally stressful games. This kind of relationship has limited commitment, and little trust. This is how I see so many people viewing salvation. They say ‘God is ok with saving me as long as I keep doing what I should be doing and keep Him happy‘. On the other side ‘I will stick with God as long as it is fun, I am in love with Him, and as long as everything works out’. Unfortunately this leads to shallow religion.
Marriage is a different concept. God has offered me a relationship with himself that is 100% fully committed on his side. God will never leave. He created us and has never left for thousands of years. He also sent His Son/died for us to be able to be with Him. This is pretty heavy commitment. I can’t come close to understanding it. Not only that, He owns everything, He knows everything, He can do anything and He will always have time for me and to listen to me. This is the best relationship a person could have. So God is fully committed and He asks for us to be fully committed to Him. Marriage/Salvation is the point where I say ‘I want this relationship with you. I accept Your gift knowing full well that I don’t deserve it’. I am now fully married/saved. God will never leave me. ‘Divorce’ is an option, but I know He won’t every use it. ‘Divorce’ is my option, it is there for my freedom. I don’t believe in once saved always saved. (but that is another topic).
What does this ‘marriage’ give me? It gives me assurance. It gives me the assurance that allows me to be who I am, and the safety to be completely honest. It is in this place that I can feel free and be able to grow as a person, into a better person, into more of what God wants me to be. (kinda like old people that start looking alike because they have spent so much time together,, isn‘t it awesome that He helps us be more like Him).
Do we waver between saved and unsaved everyday? No, I don’t waver between being married and unmarried with my husband every day. Something happened a few weeks ago that I thought illustrated this a bit better. My husband asked me to return some tools for him that he had rented 2 Fridays ago. Saturday morning he went to put something in the trunk and there they were. I had completely forgot. He asked about it and I apologized. That was it, we rented the tools for 3 days instead of 1. I am not sure that now, 2 weeks later, he even remembers. If he asks me to do it again in a few months he isn’t going to bring it up again. It is done and forgotten.
Some people seem to have the problem with giving this level of commitment to God. It means trusting and obeying. This is sadly understandable because relationships are so often a disaster between humans. I have been learning to trust as I have been learning more about God. I am relieved and overjoyed to, unlike Kate, “love, honor, and obey’. God made me so he knows and understands me more than even I can, He also has proven that He loves me and because of this I can trust His leading even when I don’t understand/ With this understanding I better understand David when he talks about ’loving Your law’ (Ps 119 several places).
Ok, so how does this transfer and relate to judgment. Especially when we see judgment as being based on works in both Matt 25:31-46 and Rom 2:6-11. First off, judgment marks the end of the age, end of the world, end of the sin experiment and with it the end of parents watching their kids starve to death, genocide, sex trade, cancer, pain and death. I can’t wait for judgment. I hate seeing sin go on. Judgment is it-done-finished. Second, all are judged. People who say that those who are saved aren’t judged miss the point of the fact that judgment is separating the two groups. There is no middle and the act of being put into a group is being judged. Third, if we can really understand point #1, and we can be assured of our salvation, then judgment is the time for our inheritance (Matt 25) and for glory, honor and immortality (Rom 2).
I am from Canada and have had the privilege of dealing with immigration in the US since I moved here in 1998. A few illustrations from these experiences (and those of others) have helped me understand this judgment point better .
First off people have the assumption that once you marry an American it should be a easy ride to citizenship. Those going through the process know that it isn’t the case. Unfortunately there are those who get ‘green card’ marriages. (This is the same as people who believe they can say the right prayer and be granted ‘tickets’ to heaven.) This is a marriage just for the purpose of getting into the country, a business transaction not a love relationship. Because of these, great and law abiding souls, if I tell immigration that I am married they say “prove it“. Anyone can get a marriage certificate. Anyone can get a white dress and a tux and take happy pictures. What they want to see is proof that you have the relationship that goes with the certificate. They want you to have some collection of the following: (I am sure this isn’t a complete list) joint ownership of property, have active joint bank accounts, have joint utilities accounts, have kids etc. I see this as similar to judgment. None of these things make you married, they are proof that you are married. My husband and I don’t share a bank account because we want to be married, we do it because we are married. Same with everything else. (We have even ‘born fruit’ of 2 children.) We have both changed and grown as people because of our marriage and hopefully we will get the chance to grow old and look alike as well. These things all are a result of being married, not prerequisites.
Last Monday I got the call to come in for my naturalization ceremony. For the last several months I have been applying, interviewing, taking history and English tests and otherwise trying to convince the US government to claim me. However, last Monday all I had to do was prove my identity. This was the visible/legal court session that solidified the fact that I passed all the screening. I was told that I was approved to be a citizen before I showed up. (I am always scared of paper/computer screw ups but that doesn’t happen in Gods court ). If I didn’t show up for the legal completion I would not be a citizen. I had to show up, show my ID and get my certificate. That session gave me my citizenship but my approval came in the months leading up to it. It was, by far, the least stressful visit to an immigration building I have ever had. It was exciting. That’s the judgment.
I am saved and I am loved and it has made all the difference. It is all that matters.
–this is not an exhaustive look at salvation, I am not a theologian, it is just my blog where I record my thoughts. I don’t claim to be right or complete, just honest 🙂