I Believe in Works-Based Salvation

It’s Tuesday and, ironically enough, today’s excerpt from Evolving in Monkey Town comes from Chapter 15, entitled “Judgment Day."

from page 173:

I used to think that being saved from my sins meant being saved from hell. Salvation was something that kicked in after death, like a gift that had “Do not open until eternity” on the tag…It was something that happened once but applied for all eternity—once saved, always saved. 

From this perspective, Jesus was little more than theological dues ex machina, a vehicle through which my eternal security was attained. As my Sunday school teacher used to say, “Jesus was born to die.” The whole point was for Jesus to act as a sacrifice on my behalf. Everything that happened between the manger and the cross was interesting but not necessary. It held no inherent saving value. Jesus was like the conductor who handed me my ticket for heaven but left me alone for the ride. 

from page 174:

[But] Jesus came to offer more than just salvation from hell. I realized this when I encountered Jesus the radical rabbi and reexamined my life in light of his teachings. When I imagined what it would be like to give generously without wondering what is in it for me, to give up my grudges and learn to diffuse hatred with love, to stop judging other people once and for all, to care for the poor and seek out the downtrodden, to finally believe that stuff can’t make me happy, to give up my urge to gossip and manipulate, to worry less about what other people think, to refuse to retaliate no matter the cost, to be capable of forgiving to the point of death, to live as Jesus lived and love as Jesus loved, one word came to my mind: liberation

Following Jesus would mean liberation from my bitterness, my worry, my self-righteousness, my prejudice, my selfishness, my materialism, and my misplaced loyalties. Following Jesus would mean salvation from my sin. 

What I’m trying to say is that while I still believe Jesus died to save us from our sins, I’m beginning to think that Jesus also lived to save us from our sins. the apostle Paul put it more eloquently in his letter to the church in Rome when he said, ‘For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to hi m through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:10). 

If it’s starting to sound like I believe in works-based salvation , it’s because I do. While I don’t for a second think that we can earn God’s grace by checking off a to-do list, I do believe that there is liberation in obedience. When we live like Jesus, when we take his teachings seriously and apply them to life, we don’t have to wait until we die to experience freedom from sin. We experience it every day as each step of faith and every good work loosens the chains of sin around our feet. It’s hard, and it’s something that I fail at most of the time, but it’s something I’ve experienced in little fits and starts along the way, enough to know that it’s worth it. Jesus promised that his yoke will be light, because he carries most of the load. 

How have your views on salvation shifted through the years? In what ways can we experience salvation in the day-to-day?

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