Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Beloved Spear Bible Puzzler #276

If you declare that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, and are completely convinced in your heart that Jesus has saved you, are you automatically saved?

Answering this question in the affirmative is a core axiom of the modern evangelical movement. Embracing who Jesus is, having a personal conviction that He is your Savior, and making a public proclamation of your conviction that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior are what is required for your salvation. There's certainly no lack of scriptural support for this position. Two examples (although there are others):

Romans 10:8-9 But what does it say? "The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says "Let Jesus be cursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.

The challenge, though, is that strict adherence to this axiom means that we're sharing heaven with some rather interesting souls. Tomas de Torquemada, for instance, most certainly proclaimed Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and without question believed in his heart that God raised Him from the dead. He passes the Romans 10:9 standard with flying colors, and also did a tremendous amount of outreach and evangelism. In fact, I think he was the first to use everyone's favorite praise-team shout-out, "I want y'all to be on fire for Jesus."

That we have a strong personal response to Christ is essential, but that something is heartfelt doesn't mean it's real. A few "balancing" scriptures:

Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'

James 2:14-18 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.

So...is salvation utterly reliant on our personal conviction?

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