I love you brother. And in love I must tell you. You are wrong when you say:
Salvation is not a personal decision for Jesus but a community endeavor of faith and love rooted together in Christ.
Salvation IS a personal decision for Jesus. Period. Full Stop.
Living out that salvation can be manifest in community faith and love—and should be. But living in community of faith and love does not save us.
I welcome your comments.
Your Spirit Sis
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L_______________, I love you too. And that’s probably one of the few things I can know for sure I’m not wrong about! Yes, I am without question wrong about many things, and may be wrong about this too.
But here’s my thinking.
First, there’s a big difference between the prepositions “by” and “in.” We are saved by Christ, by grace, by faith. And that reconciliation is experienced in one body – which is the “church.” (Ephesians 2:11-22)
First of all, don’t hear “church” as any institution which we build and whose activities we attend. See the organic, living connection with believers, living and dead (we traditionally call this the “universal church”) experienced practically in any gathering of two or more in his name (we call this the “local church”). So don’t confuse the two prepositions, first of all.
I’m glad the statement arrested you, made you stop, made you type a query that had first rebounded round your soul a bit. That’s the point of the statement.
We are a highly individualized culture with salvation and God being a personal commodity that I can buy and use at my own discretion in this or that body, or in no body at all but my own, if I get ticked off enough at people and “church”! I love my personal savior who answers to me alone! Ha! But it is the “communion of the saints” that historic Christianity confesses and that Scripture commends, not the autonomous, self-motivated, self-contained individual. This autonomous mentality, which results in much toxicity that masquerades as Christianity is what I’m throwing a wee snowball at in the statement.
Sure, I could have inserted the word “merely” and eliminated most of the objection. “Salvation is not merely a personal decision et al…” For it is certainly both my decision and inner movement of faith (at divine instigation, to be sure!) in the context of the one body of Christ (the “church”). So, yes, merely would smooth things out a bit – but where’s the fun in that? I’m simply exercising the prerogative of Christ who challenged his hungry hearers, “Labor not for the food that perishes, but for that which endures to eternal life.” Surely it is both – we are commanded to work for our daily bread, after all! (Eph 4:28) But how much less impacting to say, “Don’t just work for food you can eat, work also for the spiritual food that sustains you for eternity.” I’m exercising the prerogative of Paul when he affirmed to the Corinthians boasting about their baptisms, “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel” – when he most certainly did send him to baptize too (Matt 28:19), thank you very much! But he seeks to stop them in their boasting tracks by the sharper contrast.
That’s all I would seek to do here in such a statement:
To arrest us, stop us in our individualistic, Western, self-sufficient tracks by saying just as emphatically that we are not rescued, reconciled, or redeemed all by our onesies as we sort everything out and cast our personal vote in our private salvation cubicle, but rather salvation is experienced in the context of the believing community we know as the “church.”
Hope this helps bring the needed clarity you seek.
If it doesn’t, well, then all I can say is let it rattle around a bit more and see if it doesn’t seem clearer after a bit, for I think there’s precious little more I have to offer on the matter at present!
Richest blessings to you, dearest L___________!