I am convinced that the 5 Steps of Salvation (or is that fingers) which are so familiar within Churches of Christ give a misplaced emphasis on one moment in time. They give the impression that the completion of these 5 steps will move a person from “outside of Christ” to “inside of Christ” as though that is the most important moment of a person’s life. In reality our lives are full of important moments.
Logically, there must be a point of transition from “outside” to “inside”. However, we must acknowledge that the “Steps of Salvation” or “Plan of Salvation” are never collated in Scripture. We have lists of Beatitudes, Fruit of the Spirit, First and Second Commands, Qualifications of elders and deacons, characteristics of love, and many more, but no listing of the Steps of Salvation. Odd.
The Steps of Salvation result from a careful study of Scripture and the compilation of texts teaching that if you do x, y, z, you’ll inherit eternal life, or you’ll be saved, or some similar wording. That doesn’t mean these steps are wrong or unimportant. I just think we need to pause and remind ourselves of this from time to time.
For a website that gives a clear listing of the Five Steps of Salvation with relevant Scriptures, click here.
In this series of sermons and articles I hope to demonstrate that the Steps of Salvation are NOT one time events. They may involve one time events, but they require attitudes and actions that continue throughout our lives.
I’ve always thought the first step (HEAR) was a bit silly. I know that Romans 10:17 says “Faith comes by hearing.” But this verse occurs in a context of telling the church to get out there and spread the Good News of Jesus. It’s a message to the church, not to the person seeking Christ. It just never made sense to me to say to someone (who’s already listening to me) that they need to hear. It seems self-evident and after the fact.
BUT, Jesus often told his disciples, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (eg. Matt. 13:9) In saying this he doesn’t mean, “Do you hear the background music at the restaurant Bartholomew?” He’s urging his disciples to pay attention to his words, to listen, to think, to question, and ultimately to learn. So here’s my First Step of Salvation for Daily Living: Never Stop Learning. Never stop listening to God.
Colossians 1 has become very meaningful to me lately. I love the prayer in verses 9-14. The opening phrases of verse 10 amaze me, “so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way…”. (A quick survey of paraphrase versions shows that this verse has a lot of different punctuation and translation possibilities. For now, I’ll work with the NIV although deeper study may prompt me change my mind down the road.)
First, it’s possible to live a life worthy of the Lord. I so often feel completely inadequate for that task. I’m glad God reminds me that I can.
Second, I can please him in every way. Because we so often focus on our shortcomings before God, I believe we often overlook the idea that we can also please Him. It’s so reassuring to me.
So how do we live worthy of God and please him? Paul gives a list of ways, but for this article I want to highlight #2, “Growing in the knowledge of God”. Studying God. Learning about God. Listening to God. Understanding God. When we invest in knowing God we please God. I believe this is consistent with the First Step – Never Stop Learning or Listening to God.
How do we grow in our knowledge of God? Here are a few of my suggestions:
- We read the Bible; we read other books; (they might be thick books, or they might be 10 minute daily devotional books, but we expose ourselves to God’s word.)
- We attend worship on Sunday morning,
- We prioritise our Bible Classes and Small Groups.
- We spend time with other Christians learning what God’s doing and done in their lives.
- We listen to God in prayer.
- We meditate on his word, not just speed read it.
- We might attend a conference.
- We can listen to other preachers and teachers online or on the radio or TV.
- We can subscribe to blogs of influential teachers.
- We might find a more mature Christian to guide us in our Christian walk.
- We might find a less mature Christian to guide.
- We serve others.
- Can you add to the list some ways that we can continue to learn about God?
- Were you taught to include “hearing” as one of the Steps of Salvation? Does it belong?
- as we “grow in our knowledge of God”, what’s the most recent thing you’ve learned about God?