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“Saved” From the Culture

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. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

Romans 10:9-10

Has anyone ever asked you if you are saved? Have you ever asked anyone that question? It is an eternally important question deserving of our reflection today. But first, a story.

One day, early in the 20th century, Hadley Moule, the godly Bishop of Durham, was stopped on a street corner by a young Salvation Army girl who asked, “Sir, are you saved?” Dressed in his clerical collar and with a twinkle in his eye, the Cambridge scholar and churchman replied: “Lass, it all depends on what you mean by ‘saved’ Do you mean, have I been saved; am I being saved; or, will I be saved?”

Ever a teacher at heart, Bishop Moule then kindly explained to the girl the three tenses of God’s salvation in our lives.

• We have been saved

• We are being saved

• We will be saved

Hadley Moule told of how we have been saved from the PENALTY of sin – PAST TENSE. (1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 2:8; Titus 3:4-5). He spoke of how we are now being saved from the POWER of sin – PRESENT TENSE (1 Corinthians 2:15; Philippians 2:12-13). Then he told excitedly of when Christ comes for us and we will be saved from the PRESENCE of sin – FUTURE TENSE (Romans 5:9-10; 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:8).

The apostle Paul opens his letter to the Roman Christians expressing confidence in the power of the Gospel for salvation, PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE (Romans 1:16). What is sometimes overlooked in Paul’s writings is his concern for the Christian’s PRESENT TENSE experience of salvation. He wants Roman Christians to be “saved” from the moral cesspool of the Roman culture.

Thus, Paul opens his letter drawing attention to the Roman culture, grieving its “ungodliness and wickedness”, leading people to “suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18). Paul warns of the slippery slope of the culture in which people who “knew God would not honor Him as God or give thanks” (Romans 1:20). He cited the culture’s snowballing slide downward which meant that people “became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). We might read Paul’s penetrating cultural analysis of ancient Rome and wonder if he is addressing our culture!

But quickly comes Paul’s answer for Christians besieged by a pagan culture: “For one believes with the heart and so is justified [PAST TENSE], and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved [PRESENT TENSE]. Notice that Paul calls for Christians to push back against the culture by not being silent: “one confesses with the mouth and so is saved”. As believers humbly and lovingly confess Jesus with their mouths they are “saved”, saved not just FOR heaven, but “saved” FROM the decline of the culture.

This calls for us in our culture to say more than we are “people of faith”. The fact is, we are a nation of many “faiths”, confessed by many different religions. Our one faith as Christians is a faith declaring, “Jesus is Lord!”

I remember a cartoon depicting a man with a long beard, dressed in a robe, carrying a sign that said: “THE END IS NEAR!” A passerby asks the man, “Do you really think that carrying that sign will change the world?” “No,” replied the man, but carrying the sign will help keep the world from changing me!”

Scottish Bible scholar William Barclay was surely right: “There can be so such thing as secret discipleship, for either the secrecy destroys the disciple, or the discipleship destroys the secrecy.”

There is a lot for us to think about in the question, “Are you saved?”

A fellow traveler,

Tim

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