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The Daily Word of Righteousness
Our Goal Is To Be Saved, #2
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5—NIV)
The Lord Jesus stated that He is the Vine and we are the branches. It is God's will that we bear fruit, that is, that the moral image of Christ come forth in our personality. Bearing the image of Christ in this manner is as true a definition of salvation as can be found in the New Testament.
Now, do you see how inappropriate it is to say we were saved three years ago? Would we mean we were bearing the image of Christ three years ago? It is not a question of being saved one day and then lost the next. Rather it is that the process of salvation is that of bearing the fruit of Christ's image. This is a program of continual growth. If we bear fruit we are pruned that we may bear more fruit. If we do not bear fruit we are removed from the Vine, from Christ.
Salvation is not a ticket to Heaven. Salvation is the bringing forth of a new creation, a new creation in which old things have passed away and all things have become new. Such moral transformation cannot possibly take place at the moment of "accepting Christ." Accepting Christ is the entrance to the program of salvation.
Are you beginning to see the difference between viewing the Christian salvation as a ticket to Heaven, and viewing the Christian salvation as a program of change from a sinful nature to the moral image of Christ?
Once you see this and ponder its ramifications you no doubt will feel as intensely as I do concerning the need for a reformation of Christian thinking. We simply are as far off base as were the Judaizers of Paul's day or the Catholics of the days of the Reformers.
Now I would like to discuss with you the topic of this essay, which is that our goal is to be saved. We have to endure to the end to be saved, as our Lord said. Let us now look at several passages from the New Testament, interpreted by us in terms of their context, and think carefully about their implications.
Command and teach these things. Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (I Timothy 4:11-16—NIV)
One can see at a glance how foreign this passage is to the way salvation currently is presented. Remember, our thesis is that salvation is a prize toward which one struggles rather than a ticket one holds, waiting to die to go to Heaven.
To be continued.