Saved For What?

Saved For What?
By Rodney Dixon

I distinctly remember the very first time I encountered the concept of Salvation. I was 19-years old, fresh out of basic training and driving through Caribou, Maine shortly after arriving at my first duty assignment at Loring Air Force Base. That was a really long time ago, but the image of the yellow neon cross with red letters alternately flashing “Jesus” “Saves” caught my attention that cold December night. I think the sign was on a downtown church building or rescue mission along Main Street. The faithful people who served there have no clue how many lives that sign has impacted - I am only one of them.

The sign caused me to consider what that message was all about. Three years later I came to fully understand it’s meaning and accept God’s gift of salvation through His son Jesus Christ. Jesus Saves indeed!

I’ve had the privilege of sharing the message of that sign countless times since then and in my role in another ministry, I’ve had the opportunity to advise and teach other Christ followers how to effectively share the story of their personal faith journey as part of their ministry. It’s a common struggle to find the right balance between an honest depiction of life before Christ in contrast with life after Christ while not putting undue focus or glory - if you will - on the old story.

Saved From What?
Beginning in Romans 7:14 through the end of chapter 8, the Apostle Paul expounds on the struggle we face between our old nature and our new, redeemed nature in Christ. There is enough meat in this passage to keep even the most dedicated scholar busy for a long time. In practical evangelism we find it’s helpful to share what God has saved us from so that those who hear our story might find some things they identify with. Letting others know something of the bondage we were once under points them to the power of God to deliver us and to the hope that they too might find deliverance.

A problem sometimes arrises when too much emphasis is focused on the nature of our old lives. I’ve been guilty of it myself when I seem to tell of my past life that God delivered me from with more passion and enthusiasm than of the new life He delivered me to. To rectify that failure, I purposed in my heart to give no more time in my testimony to the old man story than is necessary for those listening to know what God saved me from and only limited details so I don’t seem to revel in that past life.

Saved For…
While contemplating these issues, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that it is more important to speak of what God saved me for, than what He saved me from. No matter the nature of our past lives, we were all dead in our sins, in bondage and on the path that leads to destruction. In Christ we are set free to live a life that is pleasing to God and has the possibility of peace and joy. For many believers, that’s where they stop in their pursuit of God - they’re saved and secure in their eternal destiny and they’re satisfied with that.

Any thoughtful reading of the scriptures, however, will reveal that God has a greater purpose than just delivering us from our past lives. Paul brings this into focus for us in Romans 7:4 “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” (emphasis mine.)

Any notion that getting saved is good enough is further shattered by Jesus’ teaching in John 15:1-11. This beautiful passage tells us clearly that we are dependent on God, but it also makes it clear that He expects us to produce fruit not only as a condition for answering our prayers, but also as a sign of our discipleship. Failure to produce fruit could result in being trimmed from the vine and burned up.

We know that this is not a new debate. It goes back to the early church and is unfolded for us in James 2 ending with this statement in verse 26, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” Paul also brings this to our attention in Eph. 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10 is loaded with big concepts that can be challenging to get our heads around. It tells us God created us - that He did so in Christ for a purpose - so that we could do good works - and that those works were prepared for us beforehand to walk in. This passage not only tells us how we are saved - by grace through faith - but why we were saved - for good works.

I have learned that pursuing those good works, discovering those that God prepared in eternity past for me to do in the present, has been key to experiencing an intimate relationship with my heavenly Father. As you share your story of what God has saved you from, don’t neglect to share what God has saved you FOR.