The Meaning of Salvation….

If Grace is trueI discovered the meaning of salvation. Salvation comes with believing God loves you unconditionally. It is abandoning the misconception that you are rejected because of your bad behavior or accepted because of your goodness. Only when we repent of this self-absorption and focus on God’s love can this love alter us. Then and only then can God transform hearts darkened by sin and soften hearts hardened by self-righteousness. It is from this self-absorption that we must be saved. Often, when I speak of my belief in the salvation of every person, someone will object that without the threat of hell, people would sin wantonly. They consider the possibility of eternal punishment as the only deterrent to human selfishness…..

The message of Jesus—that salvation is a matter of abandoning self-absorption and being transformed by the love of God—became obscured. Within two hundred years, salvation would mean believing “Jesus was the only begotten son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made” (Nicene Creed). We were no longer saved from our self-absorption. We were saved from the sin of not believing certain things about Jesus. Those who believed these things were saved, and those who didn’t were damned. Whether people lived the way of Jesus became irrelevant to some and secondary to many. Salvation became a status, easy to achieve and verify. This misunderstanding persists.

Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-03-17). If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (Plus) (p. 154). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I very much like what Mr. Gulley says is the meaning of salvation and that is to believe that God loves you unconditionally.  The meaning of salvation has come to mean too many different things for different Christians. There are many denominations including the Lutheran ones I have recently been a member of who says that our salvation is a gift from God but then, contrary to their own dogma, go on to put conditions on salvation. They say if you don’t jump through all their “belief” hoops then your salvation is not assured.

As Mr. Gulley mentioned in the book many believe that only the threat of hell will keep us from going to the dark side of life. They consider  eternal punishment as being the determining factor of sticking to our faith.  I love the saying that our self-absorbed choices by their nature separate us from God and our fellow human beings. Sadly our obsession with self is very contrary to Jesus’ basic message to us.

I am a major advocate that the church rather quickly turned from our faith in the words of Jesus into a set of beliefs about him is the major problem with the fractured church of today. We are all so convinced that we alone have the only path to salvation figured out. Everyone else is wrong outside of Christianity and even within it to one degree or another.  As Jesus himself said his command to love God and to love each other trumps everything else in the law or the prophets. It is the totality of his message he brought to earth with him.  Why do we continually put obstacles into that simple path to understanding? Why do we want to obscure the real meaning of salvation?

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