Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Get Saved: a common expression used to indicate a person becomes spiritually “saved” by choosing to put his or her faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; become a Christian (i.e., enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ–not to be confused with joining a religious system). Read here for more information.
Karen: “A Karen is a kind of person who is unhappy when little things don’t go their way” (urbandictionary.com). (No offense to anybody actually named Karen.) 2020 American slang.
How to “Get Saved”?
In a nutshell: Yield to grace i.e., un-earned favor bestowed by God on everyone who chooses to believe in His Son, Jesus.
There is no middle man, institution, or denomination required although one is encouraged to attend services and Bible studies in one or more denominational settings to inform and complement personal scripture studies and prayer.
As put another way in John 3:16 (NIV):
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Why this topic today?
Because of two Karens I heard commenting recently on the act of salvation. Their “presentations” troubled my spirit to the point of deciding to share a few thoughts of encouragement.
I was in a church service a few months ago where the preacher asked how many people had declared their “confession of faith in Jesus Christ” publicly in a church. Many raised their hands. Some didn’t. I didn’t (see below for a very brief explanation of how I chose to become a believer in Christ).
Just behind me sat a woman of the kind who likes to comment on things the preacher is saying for the benefit of all those in hearing range.
She immediately declared in a kind of pinched voice: “And everyone who DOESN’T raise their hand is a LIAR!”
I decided to overlook the minor annoyance and keep my peace as she likely believes there is one and ONLY ONE way a person “gets saved” and everybody else is, well, just a LIAR if their experience differs.
I don’t know if she also has a specified denomination in mind, like the one I was visiting that day, or not.
Nor do I know if she believes one has to go up front at what is colloquially called “an altar call,” or if one must do something else publicly, but in a specific church, to prove one is saved.
As I reflected a little, though, I wondered what she thinks of, say, St. Paul’s being thrown off his horse on the Damascus Road as his point of salvation, as it were, or, say, the so-called “good thief’s” conversion hanging next to Jesus on Golgotha, or the highly unusual point of awareness and confession of faith experienced by Nathanael, the one Jesus recognized as the man sitting under a fig tree (one of my favorite stories of salvation because of some humor involved)?
During two video presentations on other topics, this Karen veered off for several minutes, in obvious anger, over another way some people become Christians, i.e., by saying the so-called “sinner’s prayer“.
Granted, one single prayer or declaration, public or not, made at one time and then forgotten or not followed up on does not a commitment make. In any context, really.
On the other hand, it just well could have (see below when I get to the “grace” part).
But this Karen was really having a hard time with it.
With THEM, I should say.
“Why,” she declared during one outburst (for lack of a better term), “they might as well be saying abracadabra!!” (maybe there should be three exclamation points there).
And while she was holding forth on this, all I could think of were:
- new or young believers who had never heard of the “sinner’s prayer,”
- new or young believers who had never even been inside a Christian church before,
- new or young believers who said the prayer but who might now be wondering what ELSE they had to do, and where and when and how many times, to boot! (While sudden memories of my religious upbringing caused the old chest-tightening response lest I had sinned in yet another way or six.) (Mea maxima culpa…) and/or,
- any believer of any age, status, or description who might now have a niggling doubt about their own salvation (at least according to this Karen who happens to have a huge platform of influence versus most of us with a vastly smaller influence if any). For if ONE way of salvation should be held in so much contempt, what about others? And which ones? And how does one know for sure? (And anybody raised in a legalistic religious system and not yet fully recovered, would jump to that conclusion).
Okay. I’m done.
Now, quick, on to…
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God… (Ephesians 2:8, ESV)
With all due respect to the apparent Karens who are also sisters in Christ, I feel a need to encourage we who might just now be tempted away from the full knowledge reflected in the verse on God’s grace, just above.
You see, having come from perhaps the mother of all religious systems, I can attest to the time and effort invested in prayer and scripture studies to come fully out of such systems and into greater grace awareness wherein there is also greater peace.
I can attest to how easily one might be tempted back to legalism–and to the damage that can do to one’s spirit, perhaps even mind and emotions as well, depending upon the severity of one’s experience bound up in same.
Fortunately, God, in His generosity and love, has a much broader, deeper, wider expanse of the definition of “how to get saved”.
The few biblical examples cited above give some insight.
But, and to my main point, YOUR OWN UNIQUE, CUSTOMIZED EXPERIENCE OF SALVATION, I.E., WHEN YOU “KNEW THAT YOU KNEW” YOU WERE NOW A BELIEVER, is also as valid as any outward expression approved by some church’s (or some Karen’s) idea of what constitutes or proves salvation…
If you are reading this and you are a believer, you know how and when you made your definitive decision to believe in God which ultimately led to, as I like to put it, God the Father leading us to His Son, Jesus, and the rest follows if we remain believing. As put in another verse,
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
Your spiritual quest might have started out with a quiet question, an unmet desire to know truth…even in some cases a formal church service where there was an actual “altar call”.
Or perhaps it was something you were reading (maybe even a Scripture passage or part of one) or listening to (maybe even an old hymn your mother used to sing around the house) that turned your mind seriously toward God.
Maybe the example of how a Christian neighbor lived their everyday life influenced you in a significant way. And one day you gave that some really serious thought…
Or, your “call of salvation,” as it were, could have been even more of an outlier experience. My own story is an example of this.
My young life was filled with religion at home, school, and church; however, I came to a quiet, solitary realization one night alone in my apartment, age 23, that all of the information I had gleaned about how to succeed in life, religious and secular, in life and in school, was “not working so well.”
Especially the religious information (including some over 1300 rules and regs in the belief system I was born into).
So, that fateful night, an ordinary night, really, I picked up a Bible I had borrowed from someone on a whim, opened up and read from it, and realized that that specific and memorable moment in time, somehow for some reason, was MY “time to choose.”
And the way that everyone knows This. Is. Significant. (whatever “this” is at the moment), I knew I had to choose.
Specifically, “God,” I said out loud, in my empty living room, “I choose you.”
And just like everyone else who is a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ, whether it was a formal “reception of His Spirit” in a church service or uniquely “customized,” as it were, I knew and know still, some 47 years later, THAT was my moment of salvation.
I knew THAT was God’s grace reaching down to touch me and offer me the same invitation He extends to all–in ways that He, in His omniscience, knows we will each understand because He knows us intimately and because He…
… desires all men [mankind] to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4, NASB)
Age doesn’t matter, either.
I am reminded here of one of the most precious and encouraging “witnesses” I’ve ever heard.
There was once a very small child, about five years of age, whose mother had often had spurts of resentment and anger about things.
But this little girl noticed a big change after her mother started going to church.
The little girl knew it had something to do with Jesus.
And then, on one of her own otherwise ordinary days, she decided in her young heart that SHE wanted that new peace and joy like her mother had, too.
So she asked for Jesus to come into her heart.
And He did.
So don’t worry about the Karens (God can soothe their anger and frustration, too, in His grace-filled way, just like He soothes whatever bothers us).
Just keep your mind and heart on Jesus Christ. Follow Him, “the author and finisher of our faith,” because He already paved the way–having already paid our (full) price by His sacrifice on the cross on Golgotha.
You know the one.
It was right next to the cross of that thief who also got saved in a most unique manner–and just in the nick of time.
For an extended explanation of my own experience, read here.
And I would love to hear of your own unique, “customized” salvation experience. It will surely inspire and encourage other readers as well. Leave your story in the comment section, below, if you desire.
Not only that, He chose us “before the foundation of the world!” Ephesians 1:4–and He knows how to bring us to the point of our salvation, however, wherever, and whenever that might be.
Thank you for prompting this reminder!
Cheers and blessings,
If you subscribe to Calvins Predestination…we were chosen before the Foundation of the .Earth. HE does not want anyone to Perish…some have Election! Such Mystery
RE Calvinism and its primary doctrine of Predestination–I grew up with, you might say, the exact extreme opposite.
As a Roman Catholic, I was saved as a baby when I was baptized into the Catholic church. However, when I was “of the age of reason” (6-7) I had to start “doing things” to maintain my salvation (i.e., receive Catholic Sacraments, especially Confession) lest I lost my salvation by committing one of the classification of sins called “mortal”.
In short, you learn that Jesus died on the cross, and all that, but really, salvation is about doing things to keep your salvation going, as it were. My series on how I came out of that religious system features various, sundry, and myriad posts on all the “things”. https://pnissila.blog/category/out-of-the-fire-on-leaving-roman-catholicism/
So as opposed to the doctrine of Predestination (which I never even knew about until I began exploring other religious systems as an adult), not only was a good Catholic NOT in any way “predestined” to “salvation,” aka “elected” by God before he or she even entered the historical timeline, he or she could lose salvation by committing a mortal sin (or neglecting certain “obligations” such as attending Mass on a “regular basis,” which “basis” has changed in frequency over the years–and you really only have to be in attendance for certain parts of the Mass so if you come a little late and leave a little early, it’s okay).
But in a way, one of the logical consequences of the completely polar opposite religious beliefs systems was the same, it seems to me: belief in one of the core tenets of each system “keeps” you saved, instead of classic Christianity’s teaching that “by grace saved through faith in Jesus Christ”…in Whom we are made righteous not of our own works…”
Whereas a Calvinist, if I’m understanding the belief system correctly, apparently has complete confidence in his/her salvation because of a decision God made before time, as it were, thus the Calvinist is always “safe”.
In the Catholic belief system. on the other hand, one is saved by repeating the sacrament of Confession, mostly, as needed, in order that by forgiveness bestowed by a Catholic priest (as long as the Confession is a “good one,” i.e., no sins are omitted) even if one has committed a string of mortal sins (unforgiven mortal sins net instant Hell on death) one can say some prayers as “penance” (ironically, facing a statue of Jesus Christ on the church wall above, Who said of His one-time Sacrifice, “It is finished”)and be absolved of the sins but there is still more “penance” of indeterminate length remaining by way of Purgatory (same as Hell but with a release date when God deems we have suffered enough…despite Jesus’ finished work on the cross). Unless one earns indulgences (see below).
(For non-Catholics, I know, it sounds complicated. It is. Stick with the Gospel.)
So that’s why Catholics can sin like Hell, as it were, during the week, but “make a good Confession” on the weekend, and still be okay. Of course, there are myriad ways to shave time off Purgatory such as Novenas, Saying the Rosary and other approved Catholic prayers, fasting, “First Friday” and “First Saturday” devotions, and other forms of earning so-called “indulgences.”
So at least Catholics have a variety of options.
I choose Jesus Christ, and Him crucified for my sins, once and for all time. And yielding, then, to the promptings, comfort, correction, and guidance of the Holy Spirit gifted me at salvation to “grow me up” as a believer from then on.
And my apologies, again, to people with no familiarity with the Roman Catholic salvation system (you might call it). What I have just describe is a faint scratch on the surface of the ways and means to get saved and stay saved in that church. There are some 1300 other rules, regs, and requirements to sort through and abide by, too.
Even in spite of the so-called improvements made via the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s. (And Cathy, you and I come from the same background so I know this is “preaching to the choir,” here, LOL…)
I think this is why when I experience presentations by the “Karens” cited in my post I am inspired to insert the Gospel grace message ASAP. I can relate so much to a trip back down what to me is a potentially very legalistic and depressing, almost, response to such borderline “legalism”.
I can understand Karen #2’s possible concern over how saying a simple prayer is not the end-all, be-all of salvation, but the anger breeds a little confusion, which I hope I have adequately addressed in my discussion. I also wrote a brief response sharing my concern with her. Haven’t heard back, but sharing my concerns aided resolution for me, and maybe can help one or two stopping by to read the post.
I have no clue as to why Karen #1 would say such a thing out loud in a church, however. Maybe needed some attention? Or, like me as a kid clinging to anything the Catholic church might have to offer so that I didn’t have to burn alive for even any amount of time in Purgatory, let alone Hell, I clung fast and hard to the myriad ways to avoid that, scared that if I messed up, well, there might be some kind of hell to pay (no pun intended). So you might say, in a kid way, I was “thinking” “just DON’T mess with my theology, okay! It’s all I have!”
Kids have barely begun to develop the kind of critical thinking skills needed to be able to read the Gospel and compare and contrast other faith systems, let alone the emotional maturity to process beyond all the Hell and damnation messages inculcated into their impressionable and vulnerable young minds.
So now you know why if I err, it’s going to be on the side of encouragement–and most importantly, on the side of the message of God’s grace!
As to our before-time “election,” I view it from a point of logic, mostly.
If God is outside of time and in eternity where there are no clocks, as it were, AND if, as Scripture notes, He knows “the end from the beginning,” in other words, He already knows our life choices up until the last one, then “at the foundation of the world” He knew who would choose to believe in and follow Him when it came time for that choice. Also, just logic again, in our time capsule, as it were, and the fact that some choose early, some at life’s end, His love for us also shows by giving us the time it takes individually.
OF course, He also knows who, when their time comes, will reject Him. Even if many opportunities are given.
But that’s just logic.
Thanks for hanging in here for the read!
Cheers and blessings,
CHRIST is Everything!
All I know is HE Chose me, with HIS Boundless Grace!