Instantaneous Salvation

    "And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn…" Luke 2:6-7.

   Instantaneous salvation.

   OK, it took the whole Old Testament, angelic visitations, nine months and a donkey ride for a pregnant woman. I guess there was a process.

   "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him but as many as received Him, to those He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name…" John 1:10-11.

    Instantaneous salvation.

   See above comment on process.

   John Wesley formed a Holy Club, prayed diligently, went to the New World as a missionary, failed at just about everything and "felt his heart strangely warm" one day listening to some fellow read part of Luther’s commentary on Galatians at Aldersgate. At least I think it was Wesley, Luther, Galatians and Aldersgate.

  I really don’t care so much about anything but the "heart strangely warm part." Why didn’t his heart get strangely warmed while he was doing all that work for God?

   Instantaneous salvation.

   An "Aha!" moment?

    Niebuhr wrote, "Perhaps it is foolish to be too sensitive about the inevitable secularizations of religious values. Let us be thankful that there is no quarterly meeting in our denomination and no need of giving a district superintendent a bunch of statistics to prove that our ministry is successful" (Reinhold Niebuhr: Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic. New York:Meridian Books, 1957, p. 53).

   Niebuhr was not a baptist.

   He also died somewhere before evangelism went to strip mining.

   Granted, I like my way of telling over anyone else’s not telling.

   I just wonder when they actually get their heart’s strangely warmed. Is it when they pray the prayer with me? Or does that actually keep the "sinner" from grace? Does he have to walk with Jesus for a three years, go hungry, get angry and still misunderstand, before he finally says, "Oh, I see. Ok. Got it." ?

   I also get that we live in a nonconformist age when church going is casually accepted alongside cocooning and more people than ever fit into the club of those who "would not come to Big, Bad Baptist." I just wonder why Big, Bad Baptist does not go to them and what it is about Big Bad Baptist that makes people more comfortable at a bar.

   Instantaneous salvation.

   We live in an age of untamed cynics, don’t we? If a cynic is a moral separatist, a caustic, perhaps pessimistic person, isn’t that every media outlet? When we talk about eternal life in this age of untamed cynics, don’t we get laughed off Mars Hill? When we mention hope, don’t people reach for their wallet, to hold on to it?

   Preacher, do you keep a journal? What do you tell it? Do you say things in there you will never show the light of day? What changed, from first day to this, about your youthful presuppostions about God and ministry? Everything? Something? Nothing?

   Instantaneous salvation.

   The heart strangely warm after all that work. The woman who stumbles into AA for the fifth time and finds salvation this time. The abused child who finally puts the blame on someone other than himself. The soul clutched back as though from the fire itself, smelling of brimstone.

   He came. Process not complete but continuing.

   He lived. He died. He rose. He ascended.

   He intercedes.

   The whole thing goes on and on. I suppose he who wins a soul is wise.

   He just may not be wise enough to know when it’s won.

6 thoughts on “Instantaneous Salvation”

  1. “…when evangelism went to strip mining.” Wow! What a powerful image. I am not a Calvinist, but when I first heard the ‘close the deal’ presentation that asks the question, “Having heard these truths from God’s Word, is there any reason why you wouldn’t open your heart in faith to Jesus right now?” I had a visceral reaction along those lines. We’re not selling Chevrolets here. There’s no heavenly dotted line on which to sign.
    This mysterious, instantaneous, takes-a-while transformation we call salvation is far too often dissected like a formaldehyde-perfumed frog in a high school biology class, until we think we’ve got it all figured out. But until we can put all its vitals back together and breathe life into it ourselves, we’d better humble ourselves, testify to what we’ve found (or has found us) and then watch to see if the Spirit blesses our feeble efforts with His mighty wind.
    I believe the proper understanding is to be found somewhere between 1 Cor. 2:4-5 “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” and 1 Thess. 1:4-5 “For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” If we can’t live with that tension, that mystery, then we’ve become sub-Biblical at best.
    BTW, I quit writing journal entries several years ago. But every now and then stuff just boils to the surface that I have to put down. Yes, many questions have been asked, many answers have been examined, and not a few youthful expectations have met a tragic end.

  2. I think the last command keeps us all busy “as you are going preach, teach and make disciples – baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit”. If we go about doing this there will be more salvation some instant and some decisions will take longer.
    I think the bottom line is salvation won’t ever happen if they watch us and see that we do not believe what we are saying – that whole actions speaks louder than words thing… is true

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