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For The Salvation of Everyone Who Believes

January 31, 2007

 

Salvation is more than just conversion.  The verse doesn’t say the gospel is the power of God for the conversion of everyone who believes.  Salvation is more than conversion, and so this verse is about more than just evangelism.   Or actually, it would be better to say it this way.  This verse is about evangelism, about preaching the gospel.  But evangelism is about more than just conversions.  Preaching the gospel doesn’t just convert people.  Preaching the gospel saves people, and salvation is more than conversion.  Salvation includes a future aspect.  Your salvation includes your justification, once for all in the past, your sanctification, your ongoing growth in Christlikeness in the present, and your glorification, your future resurrected sinless state in heaven. 

Let me show you some verses that present this future aspect of salvation.

Romans 5:9  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  

Hebrews 9:28 Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.  

 

2 Thessalonians 2:13  But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

Saved through sanctification?    That’s a verse that will really throw you for a loop if you think that salvation is the same thing as justification.  You’ll start thinking that your right standing before God depends upon your progress in sanctification and you’ll never have rest for your soul.  But salvation means justification, sanctification, and glorification.  You were justified once and for all, but you’re still getting saved every day.  And you won’t be finally saved until Jesus returns and you are glorified in the twinkling of an eye at the sight of his face. 

Now here’s the point that feels most important to me this morning.  We’ve got to see that the gospel is the power of God for all of that, not just for conversion.  We need to hear the gospel again and again and again because it is not only the power of God that converts us, it is the power of God that sanctifies us, that sustains us, that keeps us persevering in the faith.  Faith comes from hearing the message.  That doesn’t just mean justifying faith.  Sanctifying faith comes from hearing the message.   Persevering faith comes from hearing the message.  That’s why Paul says in verse 15 that he is so eager to preach the gospel to believers.  Too many people seem to think that the gospel is something we preach only to unbelievers and then after they’re converted they get fifty years of lectures on morality and how to have quiet times.  What a tragedy!  Believers need to hear the gospel!  We need to preach the gospel to ourselves and to one another every day.   The gospel is the power of God that saves believers.

On a personal note, this is a very encouraging way for a preacher to think about ministry. Pastors can get very discouraged if they get drawn into comparing conversion statistics with celebrity ministers.  But according to Romans 1:16, I’m seeing souls saved every Sunday, because salvation is more than conversion.  When I preach the gospel to you, Christian, God is by his power sustaining your faith and keeping you on the path to heaven.  That is a very encouraging and sobering way to think about preaching the gospel.  It causes me to take my calling very seriously.  Every Sunday, whether there’s an unbeliever here or not, there are people who desperately need to hear the gospel in order to have the renewal of faith they need to refute the lies of Satan and throw off despairing over their sin.   You need to understand more deeply than you do that the penalty your sin deserves is paid, the justice of God is satisfied, the unblemished righteousness of Christ covers all your stains, there is now no condemnation, the way into the Holy Place has been opened once and for all to you by the blood of Christ and it will never be shut, so you can draw near boldly to God and confess your sin and receive mercy to help you in your time of need.  You need to hear that every Sunday, and woe to me if I just serve up homilies on family values.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2007 9:55 am

    Amen! Hearing and retelling the gospel truth is heartening to my soul. It’s the drink of cool water that keeps you hiking down the trail.

  2. egana permalink
    February 1, 2007 1:04 pm

    woe to you indeed!

  3. Jonah permalink
    May 23, 2007 2:49 pm

    great entry. as a youth pastor its easy to forget that just because no one comes forward does’t mean the gospel isn’t doing its job! salvation isn’t just conversion. thanks.

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