When I first began hearing Christians use the word "salvation", I wasn't sure what to make of it. I was taught, for over thirty years, that salvation comes after this life. It is something one receives after being tested and tried, and is only certain when the gavel comes down on Judgement Day.My understanding of salvation has shifted somewhat, into an understanding that allows for an exponentially higher degree of hope and joy in this life: being saved, during our lives, from sin and death through the merits of Jesus Christ. There are three degrees of salvation:
"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." ~2 Nephi 25:23
- Salvation from the punishment of sin: hell, the place of eternal separation from God where lucifer and his angels dwell.
- Salvation from the effects of sin: pain and suffering, both mental/emotional and physical.
- Salvation from the presence of sin: existence in Heaven with God.
The first degree of salvation comes about when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, and begin our walk as believers.
The second degree of salvation is when we progress in our walk to the point that we trust God enough to believe that Jesus truly overcame sin AND death, and we allow Him to heal us. The baptism of fire and the Holy Spirit usually happens sometime during this phase.
The third degree of salvation happens after this life is through, and we are taken back to the God who gave us life.
So do I mean, then, that salvation is finished and all we have to do is receive it, with nothing required of us for the rest of our lives?
No. I'm not preaching a "do nothing gospel". Not by a long shot. Lip service alone will not work in you the transformation necessary for you to be comfortable in the presence of God. And I know this because scripture is abundantly clear on this point:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
~Matthew 7:21If you want to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, your life must actively fulfill the will of the Father.
Peter wrote, pertaining to being able to receive the fulfillment of the promises offered by Jesus:
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
~2 Peter 1:5-11What I am saying, earnestly, is that when we are truly able to receive the love of Jesus Christ, when we truly trust Him, believing what He said (which is the natural result of actually accepting Him as your Savior), you choose the influence of the Holy Spirit. That bears fruit, as the word proclaims clearly:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
~Galatians 5:22-23When you choose Jesus Christ, and begin to walk as a believer, learning of Him and following Him, your life changes. You choose differently, because you believe what Jesus said. You begin to change as God teaches you (Romans 12:2), and He begins to transform you into His own image, the image of God.
The life of a believer, who receives what Jesus offers, the walking out of salvation before God, is a beautiful, powerful, transformative thing. It's not stasis, comfort and flattery. It's challenge, it's being called to deeper and higher levels of discipline and service, and it's learning to receive the comfort Jesus offers as the old life is stripped away to reveal the new creature in Christ Jesus.
If anyone has any questions, please do let me know.