Thursday, October 23, 2008

The ABC’s of salvation

Next to the main entrance of the church we attended few years ago, there was a table and a stack of fliers on it. It was a one page printout titled ‘ABC’s of salvation’, and below the title, the subsequent lines explained what it means.

A – Accept
B – Believe
C – Confess

To elaborate,

A – Accept you are a sinner.
B – Believe in Jesus.
C – Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.

Do these three steps – You are saved!


There were references to bible verses with each step. When I first saw it, I was fascinated by the simplicity of the salvation formula derived from a big book like Bible. I took one copy for myself thinking that I might use this formula to get others saved. I had never seen it simplified like this before. The reason I was fascinated, that my finite brain is always inclined to the ideologies listed as bullet points. It’s easy to read, grasp, teach and share. Also I like the exact ‘science’ of anything.

Now, here is the question I want to pose:

What are the things you need to believe or do in order to fall in love with a girl?

Here is my answer,

1. Get to know her
2. ---------
3. ---------

Hmm… There is no exact science! I don’t know how to put it into bullet points! Love is not a set of statements defined on a piece of paper. There are things which cannot be explained, there are things which cannot be put into words. There are no step 1, 2, 3…There are no schools on the face of the earth who can teach me the science of falling in love.

Isn’t it amazing that we shortened the 66 books of the Bible into few bullet points hoping that we are summarizing it exactly? Has Jesus ever given us a formula? Has the Apostles?

Isn’t salvation nothing but falling in love with Jesus? And isn’t it true that the way I fall in love is NOT the way you fall in love?

How come we reduced this amazing love of God into a step by step process?

1. Listen to a sermon
2. Respond to the altar call
3. Repent of your sins
4. Invite Jesus into heart
5. Pray Sinner's prayer
6. Fill out the decision card
7. Join a church
8. Get baptized in their water by their pastor
9. Seek the gift of tongues (if you are a Charismatic)
10. Submit to the authority of your pastor and believe and do everything he says until your last breath.

What if the salvation is none of these? What if salvation is simply accepting a gift of love from the creator of the universe? What if Bible is not a book of ideologies, but a love letter?

Yes, I admit I am tempted to make everything into an exact science. But that's because I am dumb! Let ever my dumbness negate the essence and beauty of the love of Jesus!

When I itemize the steps for getting saved and staying saved, I am missing the whole point – the whole point of love. It might make my evangelism easier. It might help me to succeed in my Systematic Theology class. But what is the point if I am missing the love? What ideology can truly transform a heart other than genuine love?

I find it increasingly difficult to explain love, grace, faith, hope etc. People look for formulaic answers, but I just don't have it. I mean, I might just say - "I know Jesus loves you; and I hope you will come to know this truth." Is it over-simplified? I don't know!


jul said...

Love it! Recently my husband and I have discussed this stuff a lot. I think that many people are saved and don't know it, while many think they are and aren't at all...I think much less knowledge (i.e. facts) are necesary than we assume, and far less faith if that makes any sense. It's certainly not the cut and dry deal I thought it was growing up in the church!

jul said...

P.S. How have I overlooked your blog for so long? Must have been a brain glitch, well you're on my favorites now!

Amy said...

I loved the "humor" weaved without! I always enjoy reading your posts. (Smiles :)

Love what you said here: "Love is not a set of statements defined on a piece of paper."
Amen. It is much, much, much more than that. Love is God...and God is so multi-faceted, so multi-dimensional. Love is expressed and lived in zillions of essences!

Again, great post!

~Amy :)

RJW said...




Christ !!

How's that? It's as easy as abc!! :)

Love you!! :)

Bino M. said...

Jul - Thanks! I have visited your blog in the past and read some great things there. Thanks for stopping by, it's always great to get to know other like-minded believers in this awesome journey.

Amy - Thanks! :) There are only a few people like you would say that there is humor in my posts. In real life, i am not really a wit-cracker. If you don't believe me ask my wife. She might be sick of my serious face! :)

Jamie - Amen!

Joel B. said...

Great stuff! I have to admit that when I hear the words "ABC's of..." I always think of a song called "The ABC's of Dead Russian Leaders." LOL. It was a song I used to hear on the Dr. Demento show waaaay back in the 80's. (By the way, the ABC's were "A. Andropov, B. Brezhnev, C. Chernenko, D. Dead.). ;)

But seriously...

Is the message of salvation any more difficult than the message of the fall? It's easy to accept (or at least I think it is) that because of the disbelief of Adam, we all became sinners. Why is it so hard for us to accept that through the faith of Christ we become righteous and saved?

Ok, so I 'get' the 'why.' So much has been added to the simple gospel message over the years. But really, just as there was no series of "steps" for Adam to be made a sinner, there is no series of steps for us to be made righteous. Simply believe.

Aida said...

Wow, Bino! Fantastic post and great comments! I really can't add anything to what you've said but Jul's comment got my attention.

She said: "I think that many people are saved and don't know it, while many think they are and aren't at all..."

Salvation is a relationship of the heart. Some may have the relationship but have never said the prayer and others may have done the ABC's and yet never entered into a relationship of the heart. As she said, it's not cut and dry.

Thanks for posting this, Bino. BTW, I think you're a very funny guy.

Bino M. said...

Joel - 'D' for dead? :) That's even true in the salvation formula. You know, after they respond to the altar call and fill the decision card, they pretty much live as dead people. :) I know, I did it for many years. Because I had no clue what salvation even means. When I realized that it's Christ living His life through us, it made a world of difference.

It's interesting that we keep talking about a 'relationship with Christ', but in reality, it's only 'theoretical' for many people because they try to hold on to a set of principles, trying to live by those principles and mistake that life as Christian life.

And everything you said about simplicity, I couldn't agree more!

Bino M. said...

Aida - Thanks!

"I think that many people are saved and don't know it, while many think they are and aren't at all..."

I agree. I remember reading the Gospels looking for formulas to live by and I got some. But today, when I read gospels (or any portion of Bible) I am not looking for formulas, I am looking for the relational dynamics of everything Jesus was trying to explain to us through parables and stories. None of it has any formula.

The three major relational metaphors used in the Bible explaining Christian life:

1. A sheep to a Shepperd
2. A bride to a bridegroom
3. A child to a Father

All these three are marvelous RELATIONSHIPS. But we miss it when focus on formulas. And so we miss the essence of the Gospel.

Joel B. said...

Bino! You are so keen to point out the similarity of that old comedy song and the life many Christians live! How true... they respond or make a 'decision' for Christ, but they live as if they were dead. As others have said here, many of them are indeed still dead even if they think they're alive.

I was one of those who was actually born again a long time ago but I didn't know it. As far back as I can remember, I've been a believer, but I always thought there had to be this huge miraculous happening, and I was waiting for that great day when I'd truly be born again. But as I look back I see how Christ has worked in and through me even when I didn't know I was saved.

Your talk about the Christian life only being 'theoretical' for many has stirred up some thoughts in me as well. There are even doctrines that teach that we are not really righteous, but that it's only a 'position' God has placed us in, and only someday in the future we'll be truly righteous. This type of 'positional' or 'theoretical' teaching is, I think, keeping many from experiencing the true life they have in Christ.

lydia joy said...

What more can I add......

Hey Bino, I found this awesome quote, perhaps you may have heard it, considering your blog's title, here it is;
"The branch of the vine does not worry, and toil, and rush here to seek for sunshine, and there to find rain. No; it rests in union and communion with the vine; and at the right time, and in the right way, is the right fruit found on it. Let us so abide in the Lord Jesus.”

James Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), Missionary to China

Leonard said...

Always a good read, Thanks.

ps. good one Jamie abc, thing.

lionwoman said...

Bino, great points. You just summarized my experience in 'church' for 7 years. I realized I'd been kicking and tugging the cart for years. And finally found myself gasping for breath in frustration and fatigue on the side of the road.

Now... I'm riding in the cart while Jesus pulls it along slowly. I get frustrated because 'it's not going FAST enough! I'm not GETTING it!' but Jesus keeps telling me you CAN'T see the scenery which IS getting it if I go too fast... LOL

Bino M. said...

Lydia - That's a great quote! I have read snippets of Hudson Taylor's writings and it all goes well with the message of grace and the exchanged life. In fact just few days ago I ordered a book titled 'They Found the Secret', which is basically the stories of twenty people (including Hudson Taylor, Major Ian Thomas, John Bunyan etc) and how they found the truth of the identity in Christ (or as commonly used as 'the exchanged life'). I am eager to read it and I think it would be wonderful to read stories of others who have walked the same walk we walk today.

Leonard - Thanks!

Amy - Thanks! Ya, trying to live the Christian life on our own resources is one of the most frustrating thing on the face of the earth. :)

Bino M. said...

Joel - Ya, I have heard those 'positional righteousness' stuff before. I think they say it because there is one verse which says God 'counted' us as righteous. So the interpretation is, though we are not really righteous, He is 'counting' us as righteous. Well, the question is, was the crucifixion real or positional? If the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Jesus was real, our righteousness is also real (right now, right here).

Thanks for sharing!

Aida said...

Bino, I have a soft place in my heart for "They Found the Secret" since that's one of the books Father led me to read almost 10 years ago when I first started this journey. I think you'll enjoy it.

ViolableWings said...

I really enjoyed reading that, it entails points and thoughts that have been very much on my heart and mind. Thank you for sharing, I only hope that someday I will be able to share what is on my heart half as freely as some of the brothers and sisters I have read in these blogs.
Keep up the encouraging words.

Bino M. said...

Aida - I didn't know that book was that old! I recently came across it and thought it was quite new. Now that I checked the published date and it's March, 1984! Over 20 years old! It's encouraging to know that this journey (grace walk) is not a new 'hype' or a movement or anything like that, and there were many who really lived this life throughout the history.

Ron - Thank you for stopping by! I always encourage others to share the truths God reveals with others. For me, at this moment, the only media is blog. I enjoy doing it and am always encouraged by others who do share their journey as well.

Aida said...

Bino, I believe there has always been a remnant of God's people who have understood and lived in His grace.

John Bunyan, whose story is told in that book, wrote Pilgrim's Progress and he lived in the 1600's. His day was no different than ours. He suffered persecution by the established church because of his faith.

Bino M. said...

Aida - Thank you! It's encouraging!