As I read the Gospels, Jesus’ understanding of salvation seems to be active. To Jesus, salvation requires that there be a change happening to your person; it is not just an abstract event. I see Jesus telling a rich man to give away his wealth. I read about Jesus challenging the expert in the Law in how he views the Samaritans. I find Jesus telling the woman caught in adultery to stop. Salvation requires action.
(If you are thinking right now, “What about Ephesians 2:8-9 (we are saved by grace and not by works so no one can boast.)?” then I think you should be reading Ephesians 2:10 which ends saying we are God’s artwork created to do good works.)
Salvation I believe is best summed up this way: “Salvation is when we trust ourselves to Jesus and His way, the way of the cross (see previous post).”
Over and over in the Gospels Jesus is confronting people with Himself and His way of life. He is conversing with religious people about how they have missed the point-how salvation is not just about how good you are at not breaking the Law. He continually challenges the social structure that many of these (I assume well intentioned) teachers and people we would consider Pastors, with revolutionary ways of thinking. He’s demanding that these leaders quit bogging themselves down in theological studies and arguments and start living out their beliefs.
Jesus in Matthew 11 makes the statement: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” To which we ask what Jesus means when he says, ‘take my yoke?’
Well, a yoke was a rabbinical term that a rabbi would use to classify his way of interpreting the Law. And by using this term, Jesus is asking the people to take his understanding of the way that life is to be lived. Follow and live life the way that I am teaching you to live.
If you read the radical things that Jesus says in the Gospels, it takes a ton of trust to follow Him. Jesus’ way commands that we do not fight for our rights, instead we pick up our cross (an idea that stands directly in opposition to the Declaration of Independence). Jesus says don’t worry about tomorrow, instead give what you don’t need to those who do need (in direct opposition to retirement planning). Jesus says if somebody hits you don’t hit them back instead let them hit you again (in direct opposition to self defense).
It’s foolishness to say that I’m going to let somebody hit me a second time. It’s crazy to give away your hard earned money to somebody who has done nothing for you. But this is the way that Jesus says leads to life. He is asking us to trust Him.
Biblically, we do not just receive salvation, we take it up. We do not hunt down ways to gain eternal life; we hunt for ways to give up our lives. We do not carry around the guilt of the sins we have committed; we throw our guilt to the cross. We trust Jesus, trust His work on the cross, and trust His triumph over the grave. THIS IS SALVATION!!!